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Academic Affairs budget reduction plan -- April 2004

NOTE: The following e-mail message was sent by Provost John Gemello to SFSU faculty and staff on April 19, 2004

Dear Colleagues:

Due to the multi-million dollar reductions in the University’s 2003/04 budget and the proposed Governor’s budget for 2004/05, the colleges and other units within Academic Affairs have had to reduce their budgets by a total of $10.3 million. The grim task of identifying that magnitude of budget cuts, with the resulting loss of services that can be provided to our students, is agonizing. After weeks of meetings and broad-based consultation, the plan is ready. What follows is a description of the key aspects of the plan generated by the deans in collaboration with the Provost’s Office.

I would like to emphasize several points before laying out the plan:

  • This budget reduction target is based on the Governor’s January budget proposal. If the University receives any further cuts, as is likely, we will have to go back to the units within Academic Affairs to seek further reductions.
  • In accord with University policy, recommendations for program discontinuance must go to the Academic Senate for deliberation. Changes can be made, but the reductions must total $10.3 million. Any deletions from the plan must be matched by an alternative source of equal savings.
  • Every effort has been made to preserve academic programs. The plan includes a variety of strategies: moving some programs to self-support, downsizing others, phasing out general fund support for remediation, and achieving economies by consolidating some elements of the GE curriculum, among others.
  • Some of the elements in the plan can be implemented immediately in the new fiscal year, but much of the plan comprises long-term strategies. We are expecting the savings from discontinuance, for example, to take full effect in fall 2006. For a time, the budget will be a combination of short-term and permanent strategies.
  • A major budget reduction alternative -- consolidation of colleges -- remains under consideration. A task force of past Senate chairs has been studying options. Discussion will continue in many settings -- among the Deans, the department chairs, the University Budget Committee, CUSP, the Senate, and the Academic Affairs Council, to name a few. Theoretically, a reduction in the number of colleges, for example from eight to six, could save as much as $800,000. If we decide not to go forward with any consolidation plan, we will need to look for that amount of savings elsewhere within Academic Affairs.

I am relieved to be able to report that the current plan preserves all tenured and tenure-track faculty jobs, as well as those of all Academic Affairs staff with permanent status, although some faculty would be moved to other programs or departments, as might some staff. We will see a significant loss of lecturer positions in fall 2006, as we certainly will next year. Discontinued programs will be phased out, allowing currently enrolled students to complete their degrees. However, no new majors will be accepted in areas under consideration for discontinuance.

Proposed reductions, by category, are:

Discontinue bachelor's degree programs: The B.A. in Social Science, B.A. in Dance, B.S. in Industrial Technology, B.A. in Social Work, B.A. in Russian.

Discontinue master’s degree programs: The M.A. in Family and Consumer Sciences, M.A. in Gerontology, M.A. in Kinesiology, M.S. in Recreation, M.A. in Russian.

Discontinue concentration and/or minor: NEXA program, Minor in California Studies.

Move program to self-support: Child Study Center; master's degree programs in the College of Business; Holistic Health and Physical Activity Courses (partial movement); M.S. in Engineering; Clinical Laboratory Scientist Internship.

Downsize programs: B.S. in Engineering (retains all current degree programs; meets accreditation requirements); General Education programs within the College of Health and Human Services and the College of Humanities.

Other programmatic impacts: Elimination of General Fund support for remedial courses in English and Mathematics (effective fall 2006); budget reductions in non-college units and administrative units reporting directly to the provost (more than $1.1 million); reduction in the Step to College program.

Other actions: The plan includes other actions that will be taken within the individual colleges. Some of these actions (but not all) are: elimination of some vacant faculty and staff positions; a significant change in the structure of supervision of student teachers; changes in departmental structure. Please consult with your college dean for more information.

The great fear across campus has been program discontinuance. Any program discontinuance strikes at the heart of the University and is terribly painful. I recognize that seeing one’s program eliminated will deeply affect faculty and staff. All of us who have worked on the plan have done our very best to keep such actions to a minimum. As I have said in many venues, making these cuts would be easy if we had $10 million of weak academic programs. But we don’t.

This has been a lengthy message, but you deserve full information, and we will continue to provide it. The Academic Senate is beginning its preparation to consider specific discontinuance proposals in the fall. In the meantime, please know that your thoughts and comments are always welcome.

-- John M. Gemello, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs


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Last modified July 27, 2004 by University Communications