Monday, November 30, 2009

Richmond's HSU Budget Update

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 4:50 PM

HSU President Rollin Richmond sent out this "Campus Budget Update" earlier today pinning the blame on "elected officials,"  questioning the wisdom of a cut in enrollment and basically begging for cooperation:

Colleagues and Students,

As we near the end of the fall semester, I want to update you about the campus budget situation.

Budget cuts on campus are going to continue, and they will become even more difficult in the next fiscal year. We are struggling along with every other public college and university in California. Education budgets were slashed this year as a result of the national financial crisis and, I would argue, a continuing failure by our elected officials to invest in our state's future.

I know you are all feeling the impact of budget reductions. All divisions have been affected and everyone feels the pain. Over the course of this semester, I have visited with people across campus and have heard about how they are being affected and about the harm that is being done. In nearly every case, concerns are centered on a loss of service or personal contact with students. They tell me of classes that are no longer available, of services they have a hard time accessing, of difficulties paying the increased fees. At other times, I have heard of the very personal challenges of dealing with a loss of income due to furloughs.

We are being forced to cut about $12.2 million, with over $10 million of this amount to be reduced from our base budget. The cut made to this year's budget would have been deeper if it had not been for furloughs, which reduced our expenditures by approximately $6.2 million. However, because we cannot plan on furloughs continuing, we will have to find ways to cut that amount from our base budget starting in AY 2010-2011. We also received $700,000 from the Chancellor's office to be used for classes in the spring and an additional $628,000 for reimbursement of overpaid CalPERS contributions. Along with the large student fee increases, these funds have helped mitigate our budget reductions. Following our overall approach of being as conservative as possible with our budget, the CalPERS funds will be held for the next academic year, both to build up a reserve and to preserve some funding to reduce the pain next fall. A similar approach last year has benefited us this year.

In order to deal with the magnitude of this base budget reduction, each of the divisions has been given a budget reduction amount and is currently engaged in planning for those reductions. Our focus in making budget reductions has been and will continue to be on minimizing the impact on our students, and ensuring that when California emerges from this recession HSU is better structured and positioned to flourish.

Our strategy for cutting the base budget for the coming fiscal year is based on the following assumptions. Employee furloughs will be discontinued at the end of the current fiscal year. Campuses are expected to achieve but not exceed their reduced enrollment targets. And finally, the Board of Trustees will request that the State provide the CSU funding totaling $766M which includes a buyout of a 10 percent student fee increase. This amount would restore the Governor's Compact as well as fund several other requests for necessary expenditures that support the long-term viability of the CSU.

We cannot count on one-time measures to sustain us into the future. Our plan for reductions will be founded on evaluating all operations and structures in the University. We will look hard at what we do and how we do it. We will consider what services, programs, and processes would be affected by the cuts. We will examine what the consequences would be of the proposed changes and how other campus units/customers would be affected while being mindful of the number of positions that would be affected.

We have already suspended or eliminated 25 campus committees with the hope that it would allow us more time to prioritize our time and resources. We are taking a number of steps to reduce next year's enrollment by 6 percent, which will reduce our revenue. This seems counterintuitive as a strategy for saving money; however, because state funding essentially subsidizes two-thirds of the cost of educating each student, enrollment reductions save much more than they cost us in lost fees.

These are very difficult times. Everyone involved in public higher education is affected. The challenge of dealing with these budget reductions has created some tensions and strong disagreements on campus. However, it is imperative that we work together, discuss openly these tough decisions and do our best for our students.

I remain very proud of the work we do and I continue to be inspired by our students. Humboldt is a place where we're able to make an important difference. As California works to recover, this campus, like all the campuses of the California State University system, will be a vital contributor to the state's future workforce.

Sincerely yours,

Rollin C. Richmond


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Bob Doran

Bob Doran

Freelance photographer and writer, Arts and Entertainment editor from 1997 to 2013.

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