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Archive Notes - October 2009


Full Faculty Meeting, Oct. 29, 2009

Budget Update.

We have two major issues:
1. How we make permanent the $6 million or so in recurring deficit with which we started this year?
2. How do we manage the current year reduction based upon a $90 million cut to the System?

Second issue first:
Chancellor
Zimpher has a task force made up of 5 Presidents, several Provosts and
VPs for Finance, which is analyzing the best way to handle the current
year reduction. Provost Madden serves on that small task force. No
decision has been made but discussions indicate that our campus will be
responsible for something less than the $1.5 million we would normally
be called upon to return. But deliberations are on-going. The Provost
reports back to the Cabinet on a routine basis, and VP Lewis has been
listening in on the conference call.

As to the need to reduce
our recurring budget by $6 million: as I last reported we have
identified slightly over $5 million, largely through continuing many of
the reductions in place this year, holding positions vacant, moving
some costs to appropriate fees, reducing most OTPS, expense, budgets.
Some things could not be continued for another year, such as our
computer replacement fund and some purchases of academic equipment.

The remaining $1 million will need to come from:

  • Some administrative reorganization.
    Working
    with the Deans we believe that we can create a different administrative
    structure in some areas which will save us many thousands of dollars.
  • Some curricular changes
    The Provost is exploring some proposals to make changes in our curriculum which might save us tens of thousands of dollars.
  • I
    have just announced a voluntary severance package whereby those
    employees on contracts through the State, might leave the College no
    sooner than April 1, 2010, with incentives which might include
    guarantees of future part-time employment or payment of a one-time
    financial incentive.
  • Depending on the success of these actions,
    we may need to reduce more positions. In this we have several options,
    which we will pursue in this order as is necessary to close our budget
    gap:
    • Continue to freeze most vacant positions
    • Cancel temporary service contracts, where possible, according to work rules
    • Non-renew individuals as contracts come up, again according to work rules
    • And
      lastly, eliminate programs with lay-offs and retrenchment for the
      affected employees, again according to the appropriate contractual
      stipulations and processes


Consequently,
whether or not we need to cancel contracts, non-renew individuals, or
eliminate programs depends on our ability to close the permanent budget
gap with the other tools I have outlined. At this juncture, nothing is
off the table and we are looking to see what other options we may have
to pursue. The elimination of programs requires the permission of the
Chancellor and she has not indicated whether she will even accept such
proposals. Consequently, we have not made any such requests to the
Chancellor. She has indicated that this is a topic which her task
force will consider. Even if permission is given, the process takes at
least two months and no announcements can be made until the very end.


If
we can increase our revenues, through increased enrollment, for
example, we will have more leeway than if we continue to have a
relatively stagnant enrollment. This may not alleviate our need to
continue to reduce expenditures, but it will certainly place us in a
more comfortable financial position. Increased enrollment in the
graduate program is especially needed. Each additional in-state
graduate student brings in just under $9,000 annually in tuition and
fees. Faculty members are encouraged to assist in any way they can in
their departmental recruiting. We are attempting to improve our
marketing of graduate programs, and have made great strides in the
mechanics of the graduate admissions process.


Similarly, faculty
should take an active role in helping the undergraduate recruiting by
working with Admissions as they contact prospective students. And
lastly, retention is extremely important, since it costs us far less to
retain a student than to recruit a new one. A five percent improvement
in retention brings in $375,000.


The financial condition of the
state is perilous. When the state catches a cold SUNY gets pneumonia.
I do not foresee an improvement in the state?s economic climate for
years to come. We can lobby to have the state return the tuition
increase from last year, and we can seek some administrative rule
changes which will help SUNY deal with these perturbations in state
funding. But these are mid-term projects and offer little or no
immediate relief.


To conclude, we have developed a plan to
address the budget problems. The extent to which we need to look at
non-renewal or program elimination depends upon the degree to which we
can permanently solve our budget gap with less draconian actions.
Because the non-renewal of contracts and program elimination are
subject to extensive rules and regulations, I am not at liberty to
discuss any aspect of them. I sincerely hope that we will not need to
take those actions, but as I have said previously, they must remain
options given the dire circumstances in which we find ourselves.