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Faculty Forum focuses on budget


Shawn Bibb, vice president of Administration and Finance and chief financial officer, discusses the CSUEB budget cycle at the Faculty Forum.

  • February 19, 2009

A Faculty Forum held Feb. 17 on the Hayward Campus outlined the budget status at California State University, East Bay and the CSU as a result of the state budget crisis.

"These are challenging times, not just for this university, but for the state and the country," said Susan Opp, chair of the Academic Senate.

Approximately 100 faculty and staff members attended the forum, held in the presentation center in the Valley Business and Technology Center. Members of the Concord Campus participated remotely.

In opening remarks, Opp said the forum's purpose was to engage faculty members in the budget discussion. She encouraged faculty members to ask questions following comments from President Mohammad Qayoumi and cabinet members explaining the university budget background and status.

"To me, a budget is a reflection of the values of an organization," Qayoumi said. "A budget is a roadmap to how we can accomplish the goals of the university."

While he and his team offered details about what led up to the current budget — including several preliminary budget allocations offered to the CSU, then rescinded, by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — Qayoumi cautioned that current budget estimates could change within 24 hours, given the uncertain economic climate.

Following Qayoumi's arrival at Cal State East Bay in 2006, the administration put together a three-year budget plan, which was supported by the Academic Senate. The plan was based on a series of assumptions including funded enrollment gains of 4 percent annually and increasing efficiencies in energy, risk management and workers' compensation. Due to the state budget crisis, which began more than six months ago, Qayoumi asked the university leadership to create a balanced budget starting "from ground zero."

"Your comments will be very helpful for us, as we move forward," he said.

Shawn Bibb, CSUEB vice president of Administration and Finance and chief financial officer, delivered an overview of the budget planning cycle, which starts in June with talks at the chancellor's office. In November, CSU trustees approve the university system's requested budget, and in January the governor issues a preliminary state budget, followed by what's known as the May revise, based on the state's actual revenues. The state constitution requires the legislature to pass a final budget before July 1, a target lawmakers consistently miss. In 2008-2009, the state operated without an approved budget.

The 2009-10 state budget planning cycle started in October. Because no funds are provided for enrollment growth, CSUEB could no longer follow its three-year budget plan, Bibb said. During a discussion of budget definitions, he also stressed the importance of distinguishing between base funding, which is permanent and recurring, and one-time funding.

As it adapts to the changing budget situation, Cal State East Bay is taking a strategic, multi-year approach to reducing the budget, explained Linda Dalton, vice president of Planning and Enrollment Management. The university will continue with the multi-year approach, because meaningful changes can't be made in a single year, she said.

No across-the-board budget actions or percentage reductions are planned, because they would not be strategic.

CSUEB's budget strategy, Dalton said, takes into account the seven mandates identified as priorities during 2006 town hall-style meetings. These include offering quality academic programs, enrollment growth, campus climate, vibrant university villages and an efficient, well-run university. The budget strategy also takes into consideration the 2008 Academic Plan and the 2008 Strategic Planning Summary and Priorities for Implementation.

The university remains committed to maintaining its existing enrollment momentum, because CSUEB's base budget is contingent on meeting its CSU enrollment target. Academic Affairs, however, will offer fewer low enrollment courses and defer some tenure track hires.

Each division is examining ways to cut costs. Administration and Finance will explore offering some self-service online options, and Information Technology Services will offer remote support and consolidated servers. PEM plans to streamline admissions, change of major and graduation processing, while Student Affairs has combined two units, the Career Development Center and University Advisement Center, to form Academic Advising and Career Education. University Advancement has cut its marketing campaign promoting awareness of CSUEB.

Faculty and staff members representing the library and departments from biology to music commented or posed questions during a discussion period facilitated by Provost Michael Mahoney.

"I want to get to the heart of what faculty do, which is teaching on our campus," said professor Dee Andrews, chair of the Department of History. "I agree entirely with the strategy of cutting classes that are small that don't need to be small."

Andrews added that she and her colleagues worry, however, that class sizes, or caps, may grow higher. 

For winter quarter, CSUEB cancelled 150 low enrolled sections, but no university-wide policy about class size has been implemented, Mahoney said.

Based on attendance and the exchange of information that occurred at the forum, Opp said she considered the event a success.

"We face serious difficulties over the next few years," Opp told the crowd. "We will be stronger, if we face our challenges together as a faculty, as a department, and as a university."

Editor's note: The California Legislature passed a budget plan Thursday. The governor is expected to sign it Friday.

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