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Archive Notes - March 2009

Dear Colleagues,

With this edition of the President?s Notes,
I would like to share with the campus community the evolving status of
the budget. We do not yet have enough information to form a clear
picture, but it is my hope that this update will help to describe the
current situation and our actions for the immediate future.

year, the campus develops a budget to direct our spending in the next
year. Under normal circumstances, the Cabinet completes its budget
deliberations by late April, when we receive details from the state on
the level of support we can anticipate in the next academic year. This
year, due to the substantial cuts we already received and because the
governor?s budget request has so many provisions that may adversely
affect the campus, we began to develop budget scenarios much earlier in
the cycle. The variables that can significantly affect our budget
include the tuition increase, central support for collective bargaining
agreements, the cost of utilities, and our continuing enrollment levels.

of the largest variables that must be considered is the level of
tuition we retain on campus. As you know, the legislature approved a
deficit reduction plan for 2008-09 that included provisions for the
capture by the state of 90 percent of the tuition increase. In fact,
the state is asking us to send back 116 percent of what we actually
collected. The tuition increase for 2009-10 potentially could bring
approximately $2.8 million to our campus to offset a reduction of
approximately that much in the current fiscal year (08-09);
nevertheless, the governor?s recommendation is to allow campuses to
retain only 20 percent of that increase. SUNY System Administration
and the campus presidents are lobbying the legislature to allow all of
the tuition increase to remain on the campuses in the next fiscal year
(2009-10). Otherwise, we will ask to retain as much as possible on
campus and that the percentage formulas be abandoned in favor of actual
dollars collected.

The governor has called for the state to
provide the funds to support the collective bargaining agreements
between SUNY and the unions.The salary increases mandated by those
agreements amount to some $1.4 million on our campus. Since these
agreements were negotiated in good faith by the state and the unions,
SUNY believes that it is the obligation of the state to provide the
funds to support those agreements. In the past, legislatures have
mandated that the salary increases be awarded but did not provide the
funding to do so.That would require SUNY and the individual campuses
to find the money for the salary increase from within their own

Currently, our utilities costs are running nearly $1
million over projection because of the high cost of energy last summer
when we needed to make our purchases. In past years, SUNY had given us
money as part of our base budget to handle fluctuations in the cost of
energy. As part of the budget settlement last April, that money was
removed from our campus budget and put into a central fund of some $26
million. We were promised that, should our utilities run over budget
due to fluctuations in the market, we could request assistance from
SUNY. Several weeks ago, we requested assistance, only to be informed
that the money was no longer available, having been lost in one of the
rounds of budget reductions imposed earlier this year. As a result, we
also need to include in our planning funds for fluctuating utilities

Lastly, we are increasingly dependent on enrollments for
our financial well being. The good news is that our enrollments look
solid. The number of students who did not return to the College
between the fall and spring semesters was smaller than average, and we
enjoyed an exceptionally large cohort of new transfer students in
January. As we look to the fall, our new freshman class is on track to
be one of the largest in the history of the College, with no decline in
profile. Applications and admittances of transfer students are also
running significantly higher than in years past. The only area of
concern is our graduate program, where we are seeing fewer applications
and have seen lower enrollments already this year. As a result, the
overall enrollment picture is mixed. While we will probably see higher
undergraduate enrollments, that will be offset by lower graduate

Taken as a whole, then, we have begun to make
assumptions about next year?s budget. The scenarios we have developed
present us with a range of budget shortfalls of from $2.5 million to $7
million. Using our best judgment, the Cabinet and I anticipate that at
the end of the debate, our budget will reflect a $5.7 million gap. Of
that figure, we can cover approximately $2 million through central
actions using campus reserves and centralized accounts. Yet, after
having satisfied $2 million centrally, we still have an approximate
$3.7 million shortfall which needs to be resolved. In a spirit of
equity, this shortfall has been allocated to the various divisions of
the College in proportion to their part of the overall budget. Thus,
Academic Affairs accounts for 69.9% of all costs, after central costs
are removed. Business Affairs represents 15.3%, Advancement 5.5%,
Institutional Effectiveness and Enrollment 5.3%, Student Affairs 3%,
and my office 1%. This means that approximately $2.57 million will
need to come from Academic Affairs, $564,000 from Business Affairs, and
so forth. I am asking each vice president to develop a plan of
reductions for their particular area. Accordingly, the restraint model
applied to Academic Affairs might be somewhat different from that
applied to Student Affairs, for instance. All budgets will include a
freeze on positions. All frozen positions will be analyzed by the
Cabinet every quarter to see which positions might be filled. It is
likely that all divisions of the College will also see restraint on
OTPS (expenses), including reductions in travel and the purchase of
equipment. Individual vice presidents will also analyze the staffing
needs of their areas as part of the budget restraint.

completion of their particular plans, the vice presidents will make
presentations to the full Cabinet. In turn, working with the Cabinet,
I will create a financial plan for the campus. This process should be
concluded within a matter of weeks. I will then meet with the Business
Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate, the Executive Committee of the
Faculty Senate, and other groups to explain the final proposal. It is
important to make some of these decisions as quickly as possible before
we conclude our planning for the next academic year. The budget
restraint will have a direct impact on our ability to hire adjuncts and
other temporary faculty members to deliver some of our classes, as well
as temporary and casual employees in all divisions.

I need to
repeat that we may not know the exact details of the state budget until
well into April, or even later, depending on negotiations in Albany.
Nevertheless, we must prepare what we believe to be the probable
scenario for the budget and move forward.

I am confident that we
will weather the current financial storm. I hope that we can use this
opportunity to prepare ourselves for the eventual attainment of the
goals outlined in the Bicentennial Plan. The immediate and short-term
future will be difficult, yet in all adversity there is also
opportunity. We must seriously consider how best to reduce our
programs now to position ourselves for the future. Beyond that, I
believe that the economy will improve and resources will again flow to
the campus. As we began to prepare for this difficult time when things
were relatively good, we must now begin to think about the times of
prosperity ahead. The Cabinet and I are already planning how we can
use whatever small resources we can muster beyond this austere
financial plan to move us toward the goals of the Bicentennial Plan.
As a community where we work together to achieve a common goal, there
are no limits on what we can accomplish.