Archive Notes - February 2010

Welcome back to campus. I sincerely hope that the winter break afforded everyone a chance to rejuvenate so that, as a campus, we can meet the challenges ahead creatively and effectively.  I want to take this opportunity to outline the timetable that we will follow and some of the guidelines which we are using as we work on the budget for next year. 

The State budget will not be formalized until action is taken by the legislature, hopefully in early April.  As things currently stand, based upon the Governor’s budget request and Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act proposal, we believe that the revenue targets established in the budget blueprint created in December continue to be accurate.  At the same time, we know that things can change and change dramatically.  We could end up with less money or with more, and we want to be able to respond to either possibility agilely.  The Cabinet is working to put together contingency plans for these eventualities.  At present, we are focusing on where we might allocate funds if we find ourselves in a better financial situation than we have anticipated.  The Cabinet has outlined broad areas which are particularly critical.  These include, but are not limited to, adjunct instruction, Admissions and Financial Aid, services to employees, advancement, and development.

As we finalize the 2010-11 budget, the Cabinet will also begin to look at the Bicentennial Plan as a template for the future growth of the College.  If the economic crisis has reached its low point and if the Governor’s Public Higher Education Empowerment and Improvement Act passes, we can hope for greater stability in our budgets and more options for securing resources.  Beyond that, we need to envision the College of the future, and this vision is embodied in the Bicentennial Plan.  In order to avoid the problems of the past, we cannot rebuild the College by simply restoring funds to the budgets that have been cut.  We must allocate funds in an intentional and visionary manner to help develop the College we aspire to be, not simply the College we were. With every financial decision we must answer the question, “Will this assist us in reaching our long-term goals?”  With this in mind, the Cabinet will develop a long-term spending plan that looks to the future and will implement a system whereby we can allocate whatever funds might become available to achieve our goals.  I will communicate this to the campus later in the spring when we have a better idea of our 2010-11 budget.

In order to help us deal with the difficult financial situation in which we find ourselves, and in order to begin to create a new environment in which the SUNY system and SUNY Potsdam can flourish, I ask you to contact our Assembly Representative and State Senator to urge passage of the Governor’s Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act.  The tuition provision of the proposal can go a long way toward providing us with a modicum of fiscal stability that could allow us to more easily project our revenue from year to year.  The administrative reforms can also help to position us to better accomplish some of the things outlined in the Bicentennial Plan.  In short, it is important to our long-term success for the Legislature to pass the reforms outlined in the Governor’s proposal.

We are doing all that we can to maintain the high standard of education our students deserve and to preserve as many jobs as we can.   While collective bargaining agreements and SUNY personnel rules limit the amount of information that I can share with the campus at large, I deeply appreciate the difficult position in which some of our employees find themselves, uncertain about their employment in the next academic year.  In a few weeks, I will send out another communication in which I will outline, in a bit more detail, some of our local financial decisions.  I will send more frequent and more focused messages as we move through the spring semester in an effort to keep our community as informed as I can.