Attached are documents outlining the process, criteria, ground rules, and constraints that will guide community consultation and administrative decision-making to address our budget imbalance. We invite you to review these materials and join us at the budget forum on Wednesday, October 6, 9-11 a.m. (LC 100). In that forum, we will provide an overview of the College economy and the process described in the attached documents. As in the previous forum, we want to focus on responding to your questions and concerns. This year’s “State of the College” address posted on the homepage includes comment and context about the fiscal realities we have and will continue to face.
The overall process that we will employ this year is similar to that used to inform decisions about budgetary reductions in 2008-2009. However, rather than completing the process in a single semester, the timeline will extend over much of the academic year. Several uncertain factors have significant financial impact on the College: the outcome of the early retirement incentive; the prospect of a mid-year cut; pre- and post-election legislative and executive directions; and the impact of likely changes in SUNY resource allocations and enrollment policies. It is our hope that this timetable will allow resolution of these issues or more information about them, to provide better data to inform the budget cuts that we must address.
The extended timeline will support another change in the process. In 2008-09, we sought individual input and ideas for reducing our budget. Many of the viable suggestions put forth as a result have been implemented; others remain in the “inventory” of options available to us, although many of these suggestions were deemed infeasible, costly to implement, or unlikely to reduce our economy sufficiently and in the required time frame. We do not believe that it will be an effective use of time to repeat that process.
Instead, we are encouraging units at all levels of the College to meet, discuss ideas, and forward suggestions that have been thoughtfully researched and informed by collective wisdom. We hope that academic and other departments will engage in this process. Vice Presidents and the President’s office are already undertaking such efforts. We expect deans and directors to do so for their overall organizations, and to support, inform, and encourage such discussion in units under their supervision. The criteria and principles described in the attached materials should provide a framework and guidance for these discussions, which should include consideration of “what can we do?” to contribute to resolution of our budget issues. These discussions should take place in the coming weeks, with suggestions forwarded to your Deans and Directors by November 24; as noted in the budget process timeline, administrative offices will upon request provide information to inform these discussions.
This process provides an avenue for members of the College community to contribute enlightened suggestions for review and consideration by the Wonk group. These suggestions will inform eventual Cabinet decisions about reducing our budget. Before the end of fall semester, we will hold a budget forum at which we will present a preliminary assessment of budget reductions achievable through actions identified by the above process. That assessment, along with reduced uncertainty in at least some of the above-noted factors, should let us determine the extent and nature of further actions that may be needed to reduce the spending plan for 2011-12 and beyond. Those decisions will be finalized and shared before the end of April 2011. We will continue to communicate with the campus community throughout this process, including in open forums. We also are planning forums to discuss the budget situation with students and hear their concerns.
Thank you in advance for your contributions to and participation in this process.
Jacqueline DiStefano, Vice President for Administration and Finance
Donald Christian, Interim President