President’s Budget Message and College Council Report

As you are no doubt aware, continuing reductions in financial resources require us to be very mindful of our budgetary resources. I spoke on this issue at College Council on September 15, but I feel this portion of my remarks is important enough to send to you as a separate message. The full text of my College Council report is online.

Our budget, like those of all senior campuses in CUNY, has been impacted by at least four factors:

  1. State budget cuts of 3% to CUNY ($2.7M reduction to our campus) last year and 2% ($1.8M reduction to our campus) this year,
  2. CUNY’s loss of State Compact Funding that had historically been used to fund new faculty lines,
  3. Discontinuance of CUNY’s authority to implement a “rational tuition plan,” which permitted a $300 increase per year in full-time tuition ($2.8M loss to our campus),
  4. Revenue loss due to changes in enrollment trends. At CSI, the loss is due largely to retention issues (the numbers of new freshmen, new transfers, and graduate students continue to climb).

This combined reduction of more than $8M will present serious challenges to the College.

It is important to remember that despite these cuts, our level of faculty hiring for this year remained high, as over the past several years, which, in my view, properly reflects our academic priorities at CSI.

While we should be able to get through this year by a combination of OTPS cuts, holding positions open, and supplementing with non-tax levy resources, I am concerned about next year and beyond. Furthermore, continuing to balance the budget by attrition, salary savings, reduced professional development opportunities, and supply cuts is not an effective way to manage a campus.

As our budget becomes more challenging – and it will become even more challenging if we do not see either tuition increases or increases in State support – I will be relying heavily on the recommendations of the College Council Budget Committee concerning strategic priorities for allocations and expenditures. Specifically, I have asked that Committee to convene before the end of this month, with the Provost and VP for Finance and Administration, to review the campus budget, develop recommendations, and project expenditures for the remainder of this year and next.

I am asking the Committee to consider what our priorities should be as we deal with these issues. For example, should we continue to place the hiring of new faculty as our top priority or do we invest in our aging infrastructure and/or in staffing in other critical areas? This is the type of question that I would like the Budget Committee to address.

It is very important that we open CSI St. George as soon as possible and, it is hoped, by Spring 2017. Because enrollment has a direct impact on budget, I believe that it is especially important to stay with our St. George plan during this budget climate. Not only does St. George represent a way to gain additional enrollment, but it will also provide access to affordable post-secondary education for the 18,000 18 to 25 year olds on the North Shore with high school diplomas who are not currently attending any CUNY campus. It is my sincere hope that all academic departments will consider programs and course offerings that meet the needs of these students, and that you will work closely with your Deans and the representatives of Academic Affairs and Student & Enrollment Services to best support this new venture.

I want to thank all members of the campus community, and especially members of the College Council Budget Committee, for working with me to address these issues throughout the year.