Archive Notes - March 2010

Recently, I communicated with the campus about the progress we have made implementing the financial blueprint, which we announced in December.  As promised, I want to share more details about our situation and the actions we have taken thus far.

The plan we have developed presumed, as its guiding principle, that every sector of the campus would need to help to alleviate the budget deficit.  Consequently, the deficit was apportioned to each Vice President and the President to manage our particular share of the problem.  Obviously and unfortunately, this plan is not strategic.  While no area can easily accommodate cuts of this magnitude, different sectors have different resources they can bring to bear.  We have attempted, where possible, to protect the student experience.  As a result, I have reduced slightly the cut expected from Academic Affairs in order to ensure that critical courses are taught, at least for the 2010 fall term. When we can determine exactly what our budget will be for next year, we can then make decisions about additional staffing for the 2011 spring term classes.  The budget blueprint also cut some areas beyond which they can give and still provide necessary services.  We need to stabilize these areas or face serious negative repercussions.  Areas affected include admissions and financial aid, human resources, and physical plant, to name a few.

The voluntary severance package has assisted us significantly in reaching our reduction targets.  A total of 18 individuals have opted to accept a package.  This will result in a potential savings of $600,000 in 2010-11.  Beyond that, we have either eliminated or are keeping vacant another 11 positions, resulting from resignations and other vacancies. The potential savings from keeping both these and the severance positions open could reach to just under $2 million by 2011-12.

We have no concrete plans to retrench or layoff permanent employees (tenured faculty or those on continuing appointments). Our goal has always been to preserve as many full-time positions as possible where enrollments and program needs call for them. Consequently, we will continue to balance our most pressing needs with the resources that we have available.

Again, as I noted in my last communication, we must begin to lay the groundwork for the financial recovery that will come.  Although the Governor’s budget calls for an additional cut to SUNY, the Public Higher Education and Empowerment Act proposal has very important reforms in it which can help us recover from the current crisis and build a stronger college for the future.  Please contact your legislators to urge the passage of this act.  Similarly, the Bicentennial Plan is our blueprint for the future.  As funds become available, we will use them to immediately address critical areas vital to serving students and essential programs.  Beyond that, we will then allocate funds to accomplish the goals of the Bicentennial Plan.  In order to avoid continual budget crises, we must rebuild the College not by simply restoring funds to the accounts that have been cut, but rather we must allocate available funds in an intentional and visionary manner, to help develop the College we wish to be, not necessarily the College we were.  All budget allocations from this point forward must be made with an eye to the future.