University Planning Advisory Council

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UPAC Report & Recommendations

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January 20, 2011


I. Statement of Purpose of Report and Council Composition

San Francisco State University is confronted by dramatic and unprecedented fiscal challenges due to the State's failure to provide adequate funding for higher education. As an institution, we seek to address these challenges thoughtfully and deliberately. Solutions must be informed by our aspirations and our commitment to our mission. Through a process that embraces transparency and broad participation, our University community can seek to re-envision the university as a stronger, leaner institution directed by its values. To that end, President Robert Corrigan formed the University Planning Advisory Council (UPAC). UPAC has examined the budget challenges facing SF State and analyzed recommendations that might help the University streamline its operations.


The Council members are:

Sheldon Axler, dean, College of Science and Engineering
Frank Bayliss, professor of Biology
Robert Cherny, professor of History
Tendai Chitewere, assistant professor of Liberal Studies
Robert Collins, assistant professor of American Indian Studies
Kurt Daw, dean, College of Creative Arts
Nancy Hayes, dean, College of Business
Patricia Joost, executive assistant to the dean, College of Education
Leroy Morishita, executive vice president for Administration & Finance and Chief Financial Officer
Suzanne Pullen, student (served from December 2009 until graduation in May 2010)
Linda Wanek, professor and chair, Physical Therapy graduate program
Shawn Whalen, UPAC chair, Academic Senate chair, lecturer and director of Forensics, Communication Studies

This report provides UPAC's initial findings and recommendations for President Corrigan's consideration.

II. UPAC Charge

The University Planning Advisory Council will:

A. Solicit, review, create, and evaluate proposals for budget savings related to Academic Affairs

  • Council members will develop a request for proposals and criteria for evaluating any submissions. The Council will query the University community for proposals designed to reduce costs or generate revenue.
  • Submitted proposals will be available for review and the Council will seek feedback from the University community on the proposals. All recommendations will be made public.
  • On a rolling basis and until a deadline to be determined by the Council, it will review and evaluate any proposal received and provide an assessment of the relative merits of each to President Corrigan for consideration. In assessing the proposals, the Council may call upon the resources of the University to ensure that assessments are based on objective information. This includes data collection, organization, and analysis. It may also include assessment of programs, departments, colleges and faculty.
  • Recommendations to the President may present different points of view.


B. Re-envision the University

  • The Council will consider ways in which the University might be restructured and streamlined to make better use of the funds available to us. It will make recommendations to President Corrigan with respect to long-term changes that might be considered in light of diminished resources. These recommendations will be mindful of our shared commitment to the goals articulated in CUSP I and II, but not hindered by them.


C. Advise on imminent budget matters

  • Serve as an advisory group providing insight and consultation to the University's administration in the event of exigent and imminent circumstances.

III. UPAC Approach

UPAC began meeting in December 2009, and continued to meet weekly throughout the spring and fall 2010 semesters. After reviewing its charge and developing a plan to sequence its activities, the Council undertook a broad review of the University's systemic budget shortfall and diminishing state support. This analysis underscored the need to find budget savings, to consider institutional restructuring, and to seek out ways in which the university might streamline its efforts--all in a manner geared toward creating a stronger, leaner institution.

To facilitate the exchange of information and ideas among the university community, the Council launched a website at . The site has served as a useful repository of materials and ideas and as a central source of information about the Council's process and activities.  The materials there have been open to the entire University community.

In February 2010, the Council released a request for proposals (RFP) in an effort to tap into the tremendous insight and creativity of the campus community. The RFP was circulated via an all-faculty/staff email and advertised in CampusMemo. Additionally, to ensure that prospective participants were not discouraged from participating, those with proposals had the ability to make their submissions anonymously. Specifically, the council sought proposals that re-envision the university as a stronger, more efficient institution. Both short-term solutions and long-term visions were welcomed, as were ideas focused on cost saving or revenue generation. The council also established criteria by which proposals would be evaluated (see ). The RFP ultimately elicited well over 100 proposals, which members of the university community submitted via email, intercampus mail, or via the website. Submissions were posted on the website so that others could view them.

A plurality of submissions focused on college reorganization, so the council determined to focus its initial efforts in that vein. In the council's judgment, this was one of the few areas where there appeared to be significant campus interest in a change that would not compromise the quality of our academic programs but would also yield savings. The council reviewed the current college structure as well as the submitted proposals and determined that a six-college structure was superior to other structures.  Other initial premises included an understanding that:

  • college units should, to the degree possible, be of roughly equal size;
  • any new structure should reflect our commitment to Ethnic Studies as a critical strategic priority;
  • academic and intellectual affinities would be the best guide in placing departments within colleges; and
  • any UPAC recommendations must create a stronger institution with the ability to provide high quality educational opportunities to our students both now and in the future, but at a lower administrative cost.

While the council generally agreed that moving from an eight- to a six-college structure would save at least $1 million, there was general consensus that such a move makes sense only if it is followed by a further phase of restructuring, which would take place within the new colleges. This would focus on departmental resource sharing and mergers in an effort to further reduce administrative overhead and build on academic affinities.

In May 2010, the council released an initial draft concept for the campus' consideration. This draft was not a recommendation to the president, but rather an initial attempt to create a six-college structure which would further instructional and scholarly collaboration while reducing administrative overhead. UPAC sought and received extensive feedback on the concept. UPAC met occasionally over the summer and based on the feedback it received, the council released three additional concepts for consideration in September 2010.

On September 20, 2010, the Academic Senate hosted an all-University forum on University restructuring. Members of the campus community were encouraged to attend and to contribute to the dialogue; those wishing to speak were able to do so. The full proceedings are available for review as an audio file at the UPAC website. The Senate convened a second forum on October 21, at which members of UPAC answered questions posed to them. The forums were well attended -- both in person and via remote broadcasting -- and furthered a campus conversation about restructuring.

In an effort to further engage the university community in discussions around restructuring, UPAC offered an on-line tool, which facilitated conceptual design and enabled users to design and share potential university structures. "Design Your University" allowed users to create designs and then send them to UPAC privately or post them for public review. The tool, which was built and hosted by Academic Technology, can be found at: Using the tool, members of the University community submitted approximately 30 designs for a restructured university.

Based on feedback garnered from email, web submissions and the design tool, as well as from the forums, UPAC finalized its recommendations with respect to restructuring.

Concurrent with its deliberations on restructuring, UPAC considered various other means to cut costs and streamline operations. UPAC met with the director of the College of Extended Learning, discussed the ramifications of moving programs to self-support, reviewed data related to the number of degrees offered at the university, and considered the benefits and drawbacks to program and departmental mergers. Council members worked to ascertain the feasibility of proposals submitted to UPAC and in some instances determined to recommend the proposals for implementation.  The Council considered all of the proposals received and determined the appropriate disposition of each:

  1. Proposals related to structural reorganization were incorporated into deliberations related to the four concepts released for campus consideration. They served to inform the overall campus discussion on college restructuring.
  2. Proposals deemed to have merit were either incorporated into the Council's recommendations or, in some instances, referred to the appropriate administrator for consideration.
  3. Proposals deemed to have no merit met no further action.

IV. Summary of Budget Challenges and Long Term Impact

Over the course of the 2008-2010 fiscal years, the California State University budget was cut by $625 million (21%) and, as a consequence of those reductions, San Francisco State University's budget allocation was cut by $47.5 million.  A budget shortfall of that magnitude was impossible to absorb without extreme measures and, as a result, the California State University system implemented a 10% furlough for almost all of its employees in the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

Anticipating the likelihood that furloughs would not be extended beyond one year and understanding that without them the university would face an enormous budget shortfall, including a structural deficit of approximately $18 million, President Corrigan in consultation with the Academic Senate Executive Committee formed the University Planning Advisory Council.

The Council began its work in December of 2009 anticipating that the CSU might face additional budget reductions for the 2010-2011 academic year.  In that instance the Council would have had to make initial recommendations in the spring of 2010.  However, in January of 2010 Governor Schwarzenegger proposed the restoration of $305 million to the CSU that would result in a restoration of approximately $18.5 million to San Francisco State.  In subsequent months the Council became increasingly convinced that the Governor's proposed budget for the CSU would hold and that assumption allowed the Council to extend its deliberations regarding initial recommendations into the Fall 2010 semester.

It is important to note that the ambiguity of the State's budget is a significantly confounding factor for the work of the Council.  At no time has the Council been able to establish, with any level of confidence, a budget reduction target figure.  This uncertainty was aptly demonstrated in the days immediately following the final adoption of the 2010-2011 California Budget on October 8, 2010 when concerns regarding the assumptions of that budget suggested that mid-year cuts might be necessary.  The Legislative Analyst's recent report ( identifying a $25.4 billion deficit facing the state confirmed those fears and Governor Schwarzenegger did call a special session of the legislature but that session did not result in mid-year budget cuts.

Additionally, $60.6 million of CSU's allocation for 2010-2011 is tied to significant enrollment growth.  If the CSU fails to meet the enrollment increases specified in the budget, those funds could be forfeited.

Despite the Council's inability to identify the magnitude of potential budget reductions with precision, there is every reason to believe that the university faces serious shortfalls in operational resources in the immediate future.  State revenues have declined precipitously from $102.6 billion in 2007-2008 to $82.2 billion in 2009-2010 (a 20% reduction).  Meanwhile the CSU's percentage of the state's General Fund Revenue has steadily declined from 3.61% in 2001-2002 to 2.85% in 2009-2010.

The potential expiration of temporary tax measures this year along with voter approval of Proposition 22 that bans the state from borrowing funds from local governments will further reduce the state's revenue for 2011-2012.

Governor Brown's proposed budget for 2011-2012 recommends a cut of $500 million to the California State University system, which would result in an approximately $32 million cut to San Francisco State.  Those cuts appear to be the "best case scenario" and the cut to the CSU could be much greater (as much as double) should Governor Brown's proposed revenue enhancements fail to gain voter approval.

As state resources have declined, more of the burden for funding the CSU has been diverted to our students.  State University Fees in the fall of 2011 will be $4884 per year, nearly three and a half times what they were in the fall of 2001.

In short, the likelihood that San Francisco State University will be allocated sufficient resources from the state to sustain our current operations is exceedingly low and continuing to raise student fees is similarly unlikely.  As a result, the Council anticipates that the university will face a minimum of a $32 million shortfall in 2011-2012 (student fee increases might reduce that figure as much as $6 million, but until the CSU sets enrollment targets that number won't be known).  Our budget shortfall will be significantly worse should the state impose additional cuts if revenue measures are not approved by voters.

Having faced declining resources allocations over the past several years, we have already attempted to maximize efficiencies and eliminate unnecessary spending.  As a result, there are no easy solutions; the low hanging fruit has long since been picked.  At present, approximately 78% of the university's resources are devoted to personnel costs, which highlight how unlikely it is that we can find a financial solution that does not seriously affect jobs and livelihoods.

We have managed the structural deficit of roughly $18 million this year through temporary measures including the suspension of rehiring.  While the university has authorized 26 searches for new tenure track appointments for next year, we have lost 103 tenured and tenure track faculty to retirement, resignation, illness, or death in the past two years.  The decision to not replace departing faculty and staff has allowed us to avoid layoffs this year, but it is not a sustainable solution as departments and other units are affected unequally; some are not affected at all while the viability of others has been gravely threatened.

While we face a deficit of $32 million that we are unlikely to solve without shrinking personnel costs, the Council has focused on efforts that would minimize the number of our programs and colleagues that might eventually be adversely affected.  We have found it useful to understand that each $1 million of savings is the equivalent of roughly 10 tenure track positions (assuming the average assistant professor salary plus benefits) or 146 course sections taught by lecturers.

V. UPAC Recommendations

A. Academic Units

    • Six College Structure – After extensive deliberation the Council is recommending a transition to a six-college structure as outlined below. The Council makes this recommendation with an acute awareness of the significance of these proposed changes for the campus. Given the enormity of the budget dilemma we face, the Council concluded that the administrative savings of approximately $1 million from a reduction to six colleges was superior to absorbing additional cuts of that size within the existing college units.

      In considering six-college options, the Council considered extensive feedback garnered from two public forums, a meeting with department chairs, as well as comments submitted through the UPAC website and email.  The Council also considered how a new structure might impact the university's mission and its articulated strategic priorities.  We also believe that the proposed structure below would further instructional and scholarly collaboration.  The Council's recommendation reflects its desire to minimize the turbulence of these changes for affected faculty and staff while creating a cohesive foundation for the future.

      The Council appreciates the benefits of considering this transition with recently crafted retention, tenure, and promotion guidelines in place in most, if not all, departments.  Since retention, tenure, and promotion decisions are made based on the criteria established at the department level, college restructuring would not change RTP criteria.  In addition to the Council's faith in the provost, college deans and department chairs to further the deliberate and equitable review of retention, tenure and promotion decisions, these guidelines will serve to ensure that the university's faculty do not face deleterious impacts in this regard from any restructuring that may occur.  We believe that they can serve to assure our colleagues that their work will continue to be evaluated fairly and appropriately regardless of the larger organizational structure.

Decision Sciences
Information Systems
Hospitality & Tourism Management
International Business
Public Administration

Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts
Communication Studies
Creative Writing
Design and Industry
Museum Studies
Music and Dance
Technical and Professional Writing
Theatre Arts

American Indian Studies
Asian American Studies
Africana Studies
Ethnic Studies Program (RRS)
Latino/ Latina Studies
Graduate School of Education
Administration & Interdisciplinary Studies in Education
Instructional Technologies
Elementary Education
Secondary Education
Special Education

Child & Adolescent Development
Clinical Laboratory Science
Consumer and Family Studies/ Dietetics
Criminal Justice Studies
Health Education
Physical Therapy
Recreation, Parks and Tourism
Social Work
Urban Studies and Planning

American Studies
Comparative and World Literature
English Language and Literature
Foreign Languages and Literatures
Humanities Department
Interdisciplinary Studies (Social Sciences)
International Relations
Jewish Studies
Labor Studies
Liberal Studies
Political Science
Sexuality Studies
Women and Gender Studies

Chemistry and Biochemistry
Computer Science
Environmental Studies
Geography & Human Environmental Studies
Physics and Astronomy

  • The Council believes that resource and managerial efficiency can be furthered by encouraging partnerships among smaller departments and programs.  The Council calls upon faculty in departments with less than ten permanent faculty to begin conversations toward that end.
  • The Council believes that a review of our curricular programs could yield significant savings.  Some degree programs with modest enrollment are subdivided into 5 or more concentrations with very little overlap.  Conversely, there are a number of areas in which the same content is taught in separate courses across programs.  In short, the complicated issue of overlapping content and program proliferation needs concentrated study.  UPAC recommends that the President appoint a task force to review the curricular structure and content of all existing degree programs with an eye to maintaining quality, eliminating redundancy, and merging similar programs.


B. Other Academic Affairs

  • College of Extended Learning -- the Council believes that significant savings can be achieved through a streamlining of CEL.  Central administrative functions in CEL often duplicate the functions and responsibilities of personnel already housed within the colleges.  Downsizing some of CEL's functions and making better use of services available in the colleges would enable the campus to realize significant savings, would help ensure that programming in CEL maintains San Francisco State University's standards of quality and alignment with the University's strategic priorities, and would function as an effective tool for departments, programs, and colleges.
  • Office of International Programs -- The Council strongly supports the university's commitment to internationalization and the benefits that international programs bring to our students.  The Council also understands the financial advantages associated with strategically recruiting international students where appropriate and supports ongoing efforts in this area.  Budget reductions in OIP since 2009 have resulted in the elimination of one full-time and one half-time position and an outreach budget that has been reduced by 66%.  In January of 2010, OIP began restructuring their operations to maximize flexibility and efficiency.  Early assessments of these changes show positive results and the Council applauds these efforts.  The Council does not have additional recommendations in this area at the present time.
  • Learning Assistance Center/Campus Academic Resource Program -- These two programs offer faculty-based (LAC) and student-run (CARP) tutoring services in support of San Francisco State University students.  LAC has expanded its outreach in response to the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) implementation and has reached capacity at current staffing levels.  The Council is aware that the findings of the Facilitating Graduation groups (I & II) suggest that support services like these are essential components to students' success and that we will likely face increased demand for these kinds of services in the future.  However, the Council sees the similarities in these services as a potential source of unnecessary redundancy and supports a review of these functions to ensure that efficiencies are maximized.
  • Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) -- The Council is concerned that the cost of implementing the upper-division GWAR requirement be understood in the context of other curricular decision-making.  The Council recommends that the Committee on Written English Proficiency (CWEP) review the GWAR requirement, assess the resource commitment that it requires, and review the possibility of delivering the expected learning outcomes with pedagogical strategies that might be less resource intensive.
  • Center for Teaching and Faculty Development -- with the resignation of the CTFD director and the loss of two staff members, CTFD faces significant transition issues.  As the fiscal challenges facing the university increase, rather than decrease, the need for the professional development of our faculty and staff should be an area of focus for the university in the immediate future.  The Council recommends that the University undertake an analysis of the differing services that support faculty and staff development. The Council believes program integration would better serve the faculty and staff while decreasing costs.
  • The Council supports the values and contributions made by our Centers and Institutes and recognizes that they provide unique opportunities for faculty, staff, and students.  However, the Council recommends that Centers and Institutes should be expected to be self-supporting and that they should not draw on General Fund resources unless the benefits to students, faculty, and staff clearly warrant otherwise.  The Council also recommends that Centers and Institutes should be housed within academic units and report to those unit heads; in most cases, we recommend that the reporting relationship be to a college dean rather than to a department or program head.
  • If SF State needs to make a large permanent reduction in its budget, then some of that reduction will need to come from a reduction in personnel because salaries take up such a large percentage of the budget. Because faculty salaries are a large percentage of San Francisco State's total salary budget, a permanent budget reduction will probably mean a reduction in the number of faculty. The percent of faculty reduction might even be larger than the percent of staff reduction so that the remaining faculty members have adequate staff support to provide good conditions for teaching and research/scholarship/creative activities.

If a reduction in faculty is necessary, we recommend that it be done in a way that allows for strategic choices rather than random fluctuations that can arise from attrition.
We recommend use of constructive and creative ways to reduce faculty over time that address uneven faculty distribution in departments/programs.1


C. Technology

  • The Council believes that the University can realize significant savings by transitioning from paper-based student evaluations of teaching effectiveness to an online collection method. The Council recommends that the University take the necessary steps to complete that transition as early as possible.
  • The Council believes that the combination of centralized support for information technology along with support for information technology housed within college units creates unnecessary redundancy and inefficiency. The Council recommends a total review of information technology support with the goal of significantly reducing IT expenditures across the university.


D. Facilities and Operations, including the Downtown Center and Pacific Plaza

The Council is concerned that the university's lease obligations may pose an undue burden on University resources especially those at the Downtown Center and at Pacific Plaza. The Council recommends a review of all of the institution's lease agreements with an analysis of the cost and benefits of each agreement.


E. Advancement

The Council is convinced that funding from the state would continue to be insufficient to fund our institutional operations. We recommend that the University look to expand the success of development and/or government relations to realize the full potential these units have to contribute to the funding of the University. We hope that this can be done while continuing to emphasize efficiency and ensuring that advancement provides a significant return on the resources devoted to it.

In general, we would expect that development officers will not only raise sufficient funds to cover their own salaries, but sufficient additional funds to cover other Advancement expenses and to provide a benefit to the University. While funds for student scholarships are, of course, valuable to our students, they do not contribute in any direct way to meeting the substantial challenge that we face through the reduction of state funding for the University.


F. Fiscal Affairs, Human Resources, and Other Administrative Units

  • The Council received a proposal to move time cards (form STD 634) online rather than have them continue to be processed as a paper document. The Council supported that proposal and is happy to report that it will be implemented system-wide soon. The Council supports a review of all similar forms and documents to identify savings that could occur by transitioning away from paper documents.
  • The Council has also heard from members of the campus community that university conference spaces may be underutilized. The Council has not investigated this to a significant degree, but we do agree that there could be some significant revenue generation from a greater marketing of these resources and we recommend that this be investigated further.


G. Student Affairs

While University Police and Enrollment Management divisions of the University are housed within Student Affairs, the Council notes that discrete student fees support the vast majority of the activities and services provided by Student Affairs area. Accordingly, we have no recommendations at this time in this area. We also note that student fees fund all intercollegiate sports programs, so we do not see a way to realize significant savings in that area.


H. Other

  • UPAC commends President Corrigan's commitment to keeping management program personnel (MPPs) at low levels in comparison to other California State University campuses.
  • The Council believes that the institution should explore the efficiency of equipment procurement for the purpose of identifying places where equipment might be shared among university units.
  • The Council recommends that the university evaluate its telecommunications needs and suspects that the number of telephones could be reduced significantly.
  • The Council recommends that the university evaluate all copying on the campus to ensure that we are gaining the maximum advantage from our institutional copying contract.
  • The Council recommends a review of university auxiliaries to ensure that the institution is maximizing the potential of entrepreneurial opportunities. The recent changes in student demographics suggest a greater opportunity for ventures that would serve a more residential population.
  • The Council believes that the university could benefit from a task force that would explore institutional grant opportunities. A centralized effort that would explore both government and corporate funding opportunities could position the university to access grant opportunities that might otherwise be outside of our awareness.

VI. Conclusion

These are trying times and budget pressures assure that changes are unavoidable at San Francisco State University.  On one hand, the strength of our institution enables us to take on these challenges with some optimism about the future; on the other hand, our current strength highlights what is at risk in change.

In finding ways forward, we should pursue those changes that serve to strengthen the university while ensuring that we preserve a level of stability that is essential to maintaining quality in our programs, faculty, staff, and students.

Now more than ever, our institution requires sustained leadership and collaboration from students, staff, faculty, and administration.  The health of our institution is derived from our shared perspectives and the mutual respect that we have for each other.  Nurturing that foundation of trust is an essential element to the road ahead.



1In the example that follows, we will assume that faculty expenses need to be reduced by $9 million. We will also assume that the average annual salary of a tenured faculty member who retires or resigns is $100,000 and that the average lecturer receives $5,000 for teaching a typical 3-unit class. Furthermore, we will use the average fringe benefit rate of 37% for both tenured faculty and lecturers.

To obtain $9 million in annual savings would require reducing the number of tenured faculty by 66, assuming no lecturer replacements. This figure of 66 fewer tenured faculty arises because each faculty member costs $137,000 per year ($100,000 in salary and $37,000 in fringe benefits), and $9 million divided by $137,000 is approximately 66.

Suppose that in an average year 50 San Francisco State tenured faculty retire or resign. To obtain a reduction of 66 faculty, for three consecutive years only 28 replacements could be hired for the 50 faculty who leave (i.e., there would be a net reduction of 22 each year for three years). Or if the savings is needed quicker, for two consecutive years only 17 replacements could be hired for the 50 faculty who left. Either way, by doing some hiring even while the total size of the faculty is shrinking, the university could make strategic choices about where to put faculty resources.

The scenario in the paragraph above assumes that 66 tenured faculty will not be replaced with either other tenured faculty or with lecturers. With fewer faculty, the number of class sections taught will have to shrink. This means either larger classes or more students turned away from classes or fewer total students at San Francisco State. None of these outcomes may be desirable, so another option is to replace some tenured faculty who retire or resign with lecturers. Assuming that each tenured faculty member teaches three classes per semester, to avoid reducing the number of class sections lecturers would need to be hired to teach six classes per year at a cost of $41,100 (six classes at $5,000 each, for $30,000 in salary, plus $11,100 in fringe benefits). Thus the net savings in replacing a tenured faculty member with lecturers is $95,900 ($137,000 minus $41,100).

Thus to save $9 million, 93 tenured faculty would need to be replaced by Lecturers ($9 million divided by $95,900 is approximately 93.8, which has been rounded down to 93 for easy division into three years). Still assuming that 50 San Francisco State tenured faculty retire or resign each year, this could be achieved as follows: For three consecutive years, only 19 new tenure-track faculty are hired; the 93 classes per semester previously taught by the other 31 tenured faculty who left will be taught by lecturers. Again, by spreading this process out over three years the university could continue to do some faculty hiring and could make strategic choices about where to put faculty resources. The new tenure-track faculty and lecturers being hired would not necessarily need to go to the departments or colleges that had retirements and resignations.

The figures above could be scaled depending upon the circumstances, or these changes could be stretched out over a longer time period. If less than $9 million is needed in annual savings from faculty expenses, then the number of tenure-track faculty hired each year need not be as low as in the scenarios above.


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