Administrators battle budget issues

The combination of state budget cuts, a large number of retirees and a projected decrease in overall enrollment at the university has put administrators in a situation where they will have to make cuts across the board.

Provost John Nicklow said enrollment will be the solution to the university’s financial issues. He said at the Faculty Senate meeting Tuesday that overall admission for the fall semester has gone up by 13 percent and new student admission has increased by 7.4 percent from this time last year. He said new student enrollment is expected to increase so much that one or two New Student Orientations will be added.

“It has been a long time since we have been able to say that,” he said.

While the students have been admitted, the university is taking steps to make sure the students enroll. At the Faculty Senate meeting, names of students were given to representing members of departments so they could give them to faculty members and contact the students.

“We don’t know if a student is coming until they are sitting in class the first day,” he said.

Nicklow said the connection between the student and a faculty member could help them make the decision to attend the university.

While new student enrollment is expected to increase, overall enrollment is expected to be down which will put pressure on the budget. Cheng said the junior and senior classes are smaller than they have been in the past and that could be because community colleges are also seeing smaller enrollment.

Chancellor Rita Cheng said a 1-3 percent budget cut to all campus units will be necessary for Fiscal Year 2013. She said the 1 percent cut will be necessary because of state appropriation cuts. State funding to the university was cut by 6.14 percent, which reduces the FY13 budget from $217 million to $213 million.

The additional 2 percent cut to campus units will depend on enrollment projections. If enrollment increases, she said the Provost’s office will allow more faculty to be hired.

At the meeting, Cheng said as of Monday there were 331 retirees for the fall semester, which is almost double the 170 retirees from last year.

Of those retiring, 75-77 were tenure-track faculty members. Cheng said 41 tenure-track faculty members will be hired in the fall to fill those positions but the rest will not be filled for cost-cutting reasons.

Another way the administration has decided to cut costs was reduction in assignment to some faculty members and complete layoff of five faculty members. Fourteen non-tenure track faculty members were notified Friday their positions were subject to layoff.

Cheng said deans of colleges recommended which positions would be laid off based on low enrollment in classes that were not required.

The layoff notices sent to 63 faculty members in the Southern Regions Early Childhood Program were done as a precautionary step, Cheng said. If the state does not approve the money for the fully grant funded program, the university will not be able to support it. Funding for Head Start, a federal funded program, was already approved.

Continuing faculty members had to be notified by Friday of possible layoff because of new language put in the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association’s collective bargaining agreement for fiscal years 2010-2014. All other non-tenure track faculty members must be notified by July 20.

Cheng said more layoffs are possible.

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