Forum Held to Explain Budget

Faculty, students and staff were explained portions portions of the budget reduction plan at an open forum last Thursday.
Faculty, students and staff were explained portions portions of the budget reduction plan at an open forum last Thursday.

Campus administrators invited faculty, staff and students to an open forum last Thursday so they could explain portions of the budget reduction plan that outlines actions meant to grapple the college’s estimated $6.3 million deficit.

Interim President Donald Christian and Vice President of Finance and Administration Jackie DiStefano presented  forum attendees with a slideshow detailing portions of the plan, which include cuts to the utilities, other than personnel services and part-time personnel budgets, among other changes.

Parts of the plan were based on suggestions that came from units and departments that were evaluated based on the criteria, constraints and ground rules set forth earlier in the year, Christian said.

“It’s a collective plan,” he said. “And it is important to remember that this is a plan, not an outcome. It will require discipline and change.”

Administrators outlined ideas for meeting the budgetary shortfall – caused by cuts in state taxpayer support and other factors – in an e-mail sent to the campus community and by updating information on last week.

In December 2010, administrators said the deficit exceeded $3.2 million. But when Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposal was passed by the New York State Legislature several weeks ago, administrators told the campus that the shortfall could widen to $6.3 million because of a 10 percent cut in SUNY funding.

At the forum, DiStefano explained the eight parts of the plan, expanding upon details of adjustments for economizing. For example, DiStefano said that some new course fees will be introduced, such as an applied music fee increasing to $480 and bus fees for theatre arts courses.

Faculty in attendance asked about the $903,000 cut to the part-time personnel budget, with United University Profession (UUP) Vice President for Academics Peter Brown and others requesting information as to how and when adjuncts will be receiving letters of non-renewal.

Although she and Christian said they regret that adjuncts will be lost, DiStefano said that with the size of the deficit and a goal to not eliminate any academic programs, hard choices needed to be made.

“It’s no longer business as usual here, and we really need to think about how we operate,” she said.

However, other members of the full-time faculty expressed concern as to how the decreased number of adjuncts and budgetary constraints will affect their workload.

Eve Tuck, a professor of educational studies, said she is already busy teaching her students, conducting research and doing other activities; she said she does not know how she would be able to cope with workload increases due to less faculty.

“I have never worked so hard in my life,” she said.

Administrators said they will continue to monitor the budget situation and the concerns of the campus. According to DiStefano, accounting processes will continue.