The New Year
Each New Year is a time for reflecting on the past and looking forward with hope to the future. As a campus, we have faced months of fiscal challenge and uncertainty. Our great state of California has languished in the financial doldrums for nearly two years edging ever closer to insolvency. Institutions like ours, which rely almost exclusively on resources coming from the state, faced severe reductions in funding. For Stanislaus, this year alone we had to deal with a 20% budget cut. Student fee increases and voluntary furloughs helped to hold our cuts to this level, but these kinds of pressures take their toll on the entire campus community.
So what lies ahead? The past year was difficult; will the New Year bring some relief? While we all hope that things will improve, there are many indicators that suggest the financial storm is not over, especially for California. As the state begins its budget deliberations, the condition of the economy plus lagging revenue receipts at the state level lead some analysts to project that the state of California will face, at minimum, an additional $21 Billion budget deficit in FY 2010-11. Unabated, this could mean further reductions in funding to all sectors of the state budget including the CSU.
During the past couple of months we have worked with all of the operating divisions on campus to discuss and articulate the implications of a wide range of budget scenarios in order to fully understand our options and their consequences for our campus. These discussions included consultation with deans, academic department chairs, faculty, vice presidents, and managers. Some have chosen to take these preliminary discussions out of context and have nurtured rumors and exaggerations that have added to the fear and anxiety on campus, especially among our students. However, the information obtained from those discussions is useful and will guide us as we begin the budget process for FY 2010-11 in earnest this month. We also have heard from students about the impact of significant fee increases on their ability to pursue their academic goals. Certainly, if state funding continues to diminish, some additional burdens may fall on the students, but we are lobbying hard to have the state live up to the Master Plan promises and fund the equivalent of these potential fee increases.
Based upon what we know now, we are not anticipating further mid-year reductions to our FY 2009-10 budget. This means that all of the painful actions taken in the Spring and Fall of 2009 should carry us through the current fiscal year. We recognize that the situation could change tomorrow, but based upon current information we are not planning any layoffs in the first quarter of this year. In fact, funded by stimulus monies, some additional courses and sections were opened for Spring 2010 to help students continue progress toward their degree. We are working on implementing on-line advising, which also will help student progress toward degree.
It will be a challenging year, but we must work together to position our university to be strong and prepared for whatever lies ahead.