Good afternoon and once again welcome back for the 2017/2018 Academic Year.
I am pleased with the momentum we have gained during the fall semester. Some highlights include the implementation of our new Strategic Plan, Opportunity to Ascend, the approval of our Periodic Review Report, and CSI’s reaccreditation by Middle States. I am confident that we can continue our pace for the remainder of the Academic Year.
I’d like to speak briefly about what is happening at Michigan State University (MSU). The issues and allegations of abuse and the culture that allowed it to prevail are abhorrent. Athletic compliance issues are often intertwined with Title IX, HR, Legal, and Diversity. Training focused on prevention, transparency, and accountability are ways to counter bad cultures. Shortly after Penn State, a culture of compliance was implemented at CSI. An athletic compliance team was formed to meet regularly to review issues as they arise and to ensure increased focus on all areas of compliance. While this effort has served CSI well, we should ensure that we are known for promoting a safe and welcoming learning environment and workplace. CSI will not tolerate issues like those that occurred at Penn State and Michigan State nor will we allow bad practices to thrive at CSI Athletics or elsewhere on campus.
Over the past few months, I have heard from many of you regarding campus training for emergency situations including evacuation events. On January 24, the College hosted a Command Post Workshop, which was well attended by members of NYPD, FDNY, NYC Emergency Management, Staten Island Borough Command, and CSI staff members from Administration, Facilities Management, and Public Safety. The purpose of the workshop was twofold: bring Borough-wide members of all agencies together to discuss response responsibilities during emergency events and for all agency partners to become acquainted. The next steps following this workshop will be a “boots on the ground” Staten Island Command Post Exercise on the CSI campus. This exercise will call for all groups to gather on campus and simulate a radio command post response to an emergency event. Ultimately, the goal is a full-scale simulation exercise on campus to practice and provide guidance in case of a real emergency. I will continue to keep the campus community informed as these exercises are scheduled.
For over a year, I have repeated that this would be a tough budget year. We have had significant budget issues due to three years of budget cuts, enrollment declines, and wage increases. As I reported in November, at the end of the first quarter FY18, we were projecting a $941K year-end deficit. This deficit has shrunken to the second quarter projecting us to end the year in the black at around $+90K. I would like to see that the final quarters will show the College with a CUTRA in the range of $500K. Some of the steps we have taken to get to where we are today include:
• Filling only most critical positions;
• Examined the adjunct and temp services budgets for efficiencies, although there are not many to be found due to our need to cover courses and essential services;
• Continue to closely monitor OTPS expenditures; and
• With assistance from the Budget Committee, we articulated to CUNY various costs unique to CSI, which include: the cost for St. George; energy; the HPC, which serves all of CUNY; and our unfunded mandate as the only public institution in the Borough to provide City programs.
It appears that CUNY will acknowledge some of the costs unique to CSI with an increase to our budget. However, CUNY’s expectation is that we end the year with at least a positive $550K CUTRA. Over the years, a flat or negative CUTRA has not served us well. For example, last year, we were unable to roll over faculty start-up funds and late fiscal-year awards.
The new year (FY19) looks much better for the Senior Colleges and unlike previous years, at this point, no cuts have been discussed. The Governor has proposed a budget of $2.52 billion for the Senior Colleges, up 4% or $90.8M with an additional $284M in critical maintenance. Furthermore, the State acknowledged the second year of the tuition increase, TAP funding, City funding, and an expansion of the Excelsior Scholarship with the family income cap increasing to $110K. I will continue to lobby for the legislature to preserve this budget and to add additional strategic investment funding, particularly money for new faculty.
I will be meeting with the Institutional Planning Community (IPC) to discuss the structure for a campus retreat that will focus on how we can move ahead with the new Strategic Plan, recognizing constraints. The Opportunity to Ascend retreat will provide an opportunity for faculty, staff, and students to learn about our current fiscal outlook and budget, followed by discussion of how to move ahead with our new Strategic Plan. After all, that is what our Strategic Priority 6: Resource Management is all about. The retreat will be on Friday April 20, 2018 from 10:00am to 3:00pm with lunch in the Green Dolphin Lounge.
In closing, I hope that everyone will plan to join us for a day of dialog at the Campus Retreat. Specific details about the retreat will be communicated to the campus community in the weeks prior to April 20.