A budget update and a look ahead
Note: the following e-mail was sent to all faculty and staff on 9/28/09.
This academic year has started as painfully as any I can remember. Now, however, with the drop/add process for fall classes complete, we anticipate that the stress and confusion that characterized the opening weeks of the semester will subside, relieving the pressure on concerned faculty who have been doing their utmost to help our students get needed classes and on the many fine staff who have dealt sensitively and thoughtfully with anxious students and, in many cases, parents. In a companion budget message, I remind students of your hard work on their behalf as well as the financial hardship furloughs are imposing on many of you. You have all responded as generously as possible and have not always received the recognition you deserve. I, for one, am proud of you and wish to thank you.
What follows is an update on where we stand for the fall semester and what is being done to shape our future as positively as possible for the rest of this academic year and beyond.
This is simply to remind you that the California legislature (including all of the Bay Area members) and the Governor cut nearly 23% (or $38 million) of SF State's General Revenue funding -- reducing it from $166.7 million to $128.7 million -- and imposed new unfunded mandatory costs of $9.5 million. Part of the loss in state funding was made up by means of a 32% increase in student fees, which, after the set-aside for financial aid, netted the campus $18 million. An additional $17.7 million to help close the funding gap came from faculty, staff, and administrators taking a one-year salary cut of nearly 10% because of furloughs.
With every area of the University taking its share of the funding cut, we have managed -- just barely -- to stabilize our budget for the semester. We are all, quite naturally, concerned about the possibility of layoffs as we face a very uncertain spring semester. While I cannot issue “no layoff” guarantees, given the unpredictable nature of the state budget scene, I can say that there are no plans currently in place for the layoff of tenured or tenure-track faculty, nor is it our intention to lay off permanent staff this year in units taking furloughs. In the case of SETC, which rejected furloughs, there must be layoffs – the campus has been given no choice in the matter. Let me be absolutely clear however -- if the budget situation worsens for next year and it is determined that we have to go into layoff, the notice requirements for each of the bargaining units will require that the campus be informed prior to the end of the spring semester.
The impact of the budget cuts on part-time faculty has been horrendous, with the most current information indicating that the total number of lecturers has decreased by 401 (145 FTEF). Moreover a large number of those who remain are teaching fewer courses, sometimes losing critical health and other benefits.
I realize full well that I am not telling you anything you do not already know when I say that for many tenured and tenure-track faculty, class load has increased, class size has gone up, and assigned time has decreased. The deans have been asked to review faculty workload and report as soon as possible on the situation in each of their colleges. As soon as the information is collected, we will share it with you.
We are down to 3,164 sections -- 339 fewer than the fall of 2008. In response to what we were hearing from faculty, as well as students, we managed to add several sections after classes began, especially seeking to help students in need of another class to maintain their financial aid.
We are at 24,620 FTES -- down, as the Chancellor’s Office has ordered, from last fall. Because we are not admitting new students for the spring, we expect to have about 2,000 fewer students on campus. This should reduce some of the class registration pressure faculty and students experienced this fall. Our enrollment target for the 2010-11 academic year has been lowered by 10.8%, which again will help to better match academic resources with student needs. We are considering moving summer session to self-support, which should enable us to give more students critically needed classes. We are also stepping up our ongoing efforts to develop alternative modes of course delivery and are investigating new ways to move upper division students more quickly to graduation. All these steps should, we trust, make upcoming semesters less stressful, even though state funding will still be inadequate to support a quality education for the students we are pledged to serve.
The $1.2 billion myth:
Misinformation can often set us back as we try to deal with the reality of the present and plan for an uncertain future, which moves me to correct a two-year-old charge that has recently resurfaced that the Chancellor is sitting on $1.2 billion that could be used to fund faculty salary increases and restore classes. This is a myth based on the assumption that funds appropriated or donated for a specific purpose can be harnessed at will and reapportioned to other purposes. This simply is not true. The system is legally obligated to use funds for the purposes that they have been designated. It is not legally possible, for example, to take the bond money held in reserve for student unions, campus housing, or parking facilities and use it for any other purpose.
In my August faculty address I welcomed everyone to “year one of the reconstituted San Francisco State.” Yes, we are down, but we are far from out. As I have said to our students, there is no magic wand or easy solution to our enormous budget problem. It will continue to take creativity, sacrifice and both vision and courage on the part of our elected officials to help get us, and the rest of public higher education, out of the mess that has been created. Our own challenge now is to re-envision the campus, rethink our structure and the way we fulfill our educational mission, and shape a San Francisco State that we will recognize in terms of excellence, but that may look new in other ways. This is a job for all of us -- faculty, staff, students, administration -- one to be undertaken here, not in Long Beach, Sacramento, or Washington.
Provost Rosser, Senate Chair Whalen and I have had several conversations about the shape this effort will take and you can expect to hear more from us very soon. We learned from CUSP I and CUSP II that the key to successful strategic planning is widespread grassroots involvement. We will maintain that involvement as, over the next six to nine months, we look creatively at all the ways we do business. What will not change is our mission or our value system. Our commitment to social justice and equity, our record of excellence in the classroom, the laboratory and the community, our outstanding staff, our role as a beacon for a new, diverse generation of leaders -- all this must and will remain.
This is our goal: to make the new San Francisco State an even better place than the old. I urge you to join us in this crucially important effort.
-- Robert A. Corrigan, president
For related budget news, visit http://www.sfsu.edu/~news/2009/summer/15.html