San Francisco State University

President Corrigan's ViewPoint

ViewPoint by President Corrigan is published in First Monday for the faculty and staff at SFSU on the first Monday of the month during the fall and spring semesters by the Public Affairs and Publications offices. EXT 8-1665.

March 3, 2003

Since my February report to you about our 2003-04 budget planning, little has changed in terms of numbers. We have received our budget allocation from the Chancellor's Office and found no surprises. Our projections were right on target.

As we anticipated, our General Fund base budget of $147,225,000 (the same as this year's) has been reduced by $25,761,400 (very close to our $26 million projection)-our pro-rated share of the cuts laid out for the CSU in the governor's budget. To make the magnitude clear, that cut would equal 17.5 percent of our General Fund allocation and 12.3 percent of our overall budget. However, offsetting the reduction by about $3.5 million are $843,000 added to our base budget for some of the enrollment above target that we saw-but were not funded for-this year, and $2,634,000 that we will realize from the State University Fee increase that was implemented this spring.

That still leaves us with a $22,284,400 problem, and to narrow the gap, we must depend on three sources of new revenue proposed by Gov. Davis. In descending order of certainty, they are: 1) revenue from the governor's proposed additional fee increase of 25 percent for undergraduates and 20 percent for graduate students. For us, the net gain (after the one-third set-aside for financial aid) would be $6,850,000; 2) funding for the 5 percent CSU enrollment increase proposed by the governor (a net of $6,050,000, after we have allocated funds to Academic Affairs to handle classes for the enrollment increase), and 3) funding for an additional 2 percent enrollment increase ($2,637,600 for us).

It currently appears that a 2003-04 fee increase is likely. The funding for an enrollment increase is, of course, vulnerable to the budget actions of the legislature. The state's legislative analyst, a nonpartisan source of guidance for the legislature, has already proposed that the 5 percent CSU enrollment increase be reduced to 4 percent. I believe that there is an acknowledged need to fund some growth in the CSU (in fact, much of the 5 percent would actually be supporting growth the system achieved but was not funded for in 2002-03), but with such severe state problems, we cannot count on this.

Thus, as I reported last month, we are looking at a budget reduction of somewhere between $15.4 million and $9.5 million. And this, I must remind you, is virtually certain to be the best we can do. In past years, the CSU has regarded the governor's budget as a starting place for discussions with the legislature, which would then provide some augmentation. This year, our best hope is to avoid legislative cuts.

That is the arithmetic. Now we are dealing with decisions. Last week, we held two all-campus budget briefings to run through the above information and to give faculty and staff opportunities to ask questions and express their concerns. The chief questions are, of course: Will there be layoffs? Will there be major class cutbacks? Since we will not know our final budget for months, my answers are postulated on the governor's budget, or something very close to it, coming through for us. It is my intent that there be no layoff of tenured or tenure-track faculty (including participants in the Faculty Early Retirement Program) or of permanent staff. We believe that with the governor's current budget this is achievable.

Can we retain all temporary staff and lecturers? The painful and honest answer is no. Even our most optimistic scenario will force us to make some cuts there. As Interim Vice President Gemello pointed out, in Academic Affairs (by far the biggest segment of our budget) better than 80 percent of the funds go to pay people (more than 70 percent to faculty alone). No amount of supply and equipment cutting will be enough. Temporary employees are just as real, just as dedicated to this University and just as much in need of their paychecks as the longest-tenured professor. They are our colleagues, and we will not lose them lightly or without making every effort to avoid the loss.

We learned one critical lesson in the bad budget years of the early '90s. Cutting deeply into the class schedule only worsens our problems. When, in one semester, we went from 4,100 to 2,800 course sections, we not only failed to maintain true student access to an SFSU education, but we started a downward enrollment spiral that limited our budget and our options for years to come, as we sought to overcome the word on the street that  you can't get classes at State.  The fall class schedule will not be finished for another month, but we have just completed the Summer Session schedule, and it is approximately the same as last year. Vice President Gemello is working closely with the college deans and chairs on their individual plans. Their process, too, is rooted in open communication and full exchange of information.

As we move further into a time of conflicting demands and obligations, I have one additional pledge, and one request. The pledge: We are going to keep the budget process as open and transparent as possible. We will keep the communication flowing and two-way. We will share information and solicit feedback via e-mail, CampusMemo, and our Web site, and we will hold more all-campus meetings like those of last week. The request: Now more than ever, it is vital that we pull together and try to help each other. One important way is to recognize that many of our colleagues are feeling under great pressure and are coping with intense workloads. We need to offer each other both emotional and practical support in the coming weeks and months.

We can get through this and we will get through this-not without pain, but, I trust, without bitterness, without compromise of our core values, and with the comfort of knowing that we are working together in a community of mutual respect and support.

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Last modified February 28, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs