SUNY New Paltz
Budget, Goals & Plans Committee Report, April 2003

1) BUDGET INFORMATION SURVEY 2003

A total of 125 persons participated in the Committee’s survey of faculty and staff conducted in early April 2003, roughly three times as many as had answered the questions in our last survey in 2001. As in previous surveys, most (73%) of the respondents were members of the faculty.

The Committee notes with satisfaction that fully 80% of the respondents stated that they had discussed their department’s budget requests in a departmental meeting, a substantial increase over 2001. Specifically, the survey documented that, compared to previous years, significantly more people were involved in departmental discussions of hiring full-time and part-time staff, as well as in deliberations involving supplies, travel and equipment for 2003-2004.

While certainly not universal, a substantial majority (62%) of those surveyed stated that they were indeed satisfied with the level of discussion concerning budget requests for their departments, while an even larger majority (69%) felt that the budget process within their departments was equitable.

The results of this survey confirm that, while we have made measurable progress on campus with

getting faculty and staff more involved in budget discussions within the departments and divisions, further efforts will need to be made by all concerned to make the process more inclusive, transparent and consultative.

Detailed Results

123 people took the web survey and 2 people took the paper survey.

(44 people took the survey in 2001)

  1. The purpose of the budget process is to make financial decision-making more inclusive, transparent and consultative. Have you discussed your department’s budget requests in a departmental meeting?

Choices

Replies

Percentage

Yes

81

65%

No

35

28%

Not Applicable

5

4%

No response

4

3%

2.  Were you given an opportunity to participate this year in a departmental meeting regarding budgeting for:

-- Full-time faculty/staff (PSR) for 2003-04?

Choices Replies Percentage 2001 Survey

Yes

63

50%

46%

No

41

33%

17%

Not Applicable

18

15%

2%

No response

3

2%

9%

-- Full-time faculty/staff (PSR) for 2004-05?    

Choices Replies Percentage 2001 Survey

Yes

31

25%

39%

No

54

43%

45%

Not Applicable

29

23%

7%

No response

11

9%

9%

-- Part-time faculty/staff (PST) for 2003-04?

Choices Replies Percentage 2001 Survey

Yes

40

32%

30%

No

48

38%

43%

Not Applicable

25

20%

7%

No response

12

10%

2%

-- Supplies, travel & equipment (OTPS) for 2003-04?

Choices Replies Percentage 2001 Survey

Yes

72

58%

50%

No

39

31%

39%

Not Applicable

5

4%

 

No response

9

7%

11%

3. Are you satisfied with the level of discussion concerning budget requests for your department?

Choices Replies Percentage

Yes

77

62%

No

43

34%

Not Applicable

4

3%

No response

1

1%

4. Do you think that the budget allocation process within your department is equitable?

Choices Replies Percentage

Yes

86

69%

No

28

22%

Not Applicable

5

4%

No response

6

5%

Choices Replies Percentage

Faculty

91

73%

Professional staff

34

27%

5. What suggestions do you have for further improvements in communicating about and involving faculty and staff in the budget process?

Individual Comments

The individual comments elicited in the survey are listed below, grouped together as being either positive/constructive or negative/critical. It is evident that the positive/constructive comments outnumber those that were deemed to be negative/critical. For the most part, they are reproduced verbatim or lightly edited to remove any indication of the author’s identity. All of them are instructive and worthy of some reflection regarding corrective action.

Positive/Constructive

¨      Our dept does very well. The chair shares and discusses the budget with us every month.

¨      It might be nice to have an overall schematic of how the budget process works...if such a thing is possible.  This could be more and more important as SUNY Central comes under pressure to cut budgets.  Even if there were a schematic depicting the internal (within SUNY New Paltz) budget process, that would be helpful.

¨      I believe that department chairs need to be more forthcoming on budget matters.  My department is beginning to move in that direction, but it is yet to become a fully participatory process.

¨      Making it clear how fund are made available and what process needs to be followed to order/replenish expendable supplies, equipment that does not fall under AER, etc.

¨      The operating budget should be discussed in at least two department meetings (that is, a budget report should be included as an agenda item for the meetings). 

¨      This financial transparency would aid in understanding the department's financial standing, as opposed to simply meeting once a year to formulate a pro forma budget with very little background as to the financial management of the department.

¨      Specific deadline postings everywhere.

¨      Is there an overall guideline that could be posted by the Deans for everyone to use as a guide when examining the department budget?  How can new faculty otherwise get a handle on this complicated process?

¨      The Library Director is always careful to involve the Library Management Team members is all phases of the budget.  She also asks for input from staff members, where appropriate.

¨      I am quite satisfied.

¨      As chair of a dept., of course I think we did a good job on the budget.  I hope my colleagues would agree.  I e-mailed an input questionnaire to the entire faculty in my dept. and we used that as a basis for discussion.    

¨      Ongoing dialogue as we do. More money (I know these are hard times) would be great.

¨      The problem is not within our dept.  The problem is that we have little to no impact on the total college budget.

¨      Faculty at ALL levels (Adjuncts included) should be involved in budget decisions.

¨      It would help if the BGP committee provides unambiguous recommendation about the spirit of the budget process and what the departments should do.

¨      We haven't seen the budget for the department as of today, 03/31/03.  There is a meeting scheduled for 04/02/03  It would be nice to see the budget numbers BEFORE the meeting is scheduled

¨      Make the chairs consult with the departments.

¨      What is the budget for basic improvements such as updated computers, making classrooms useable, heat and air conditioning? It seems impossible to get some basics and it’s not a problem within the dept.

¨      Need more people involved in the process.

¨      I would suggest comparative systemic review every few years. That is, if a department is seen to have grown by 200% over three years, then it would probably be a good idea to increase that department's funding by some appropriate percentage. One must also identify the things that represent growth – like people, equipment, etc.
A more equitable top down allocation of funds.

¨      We do just fine.

¨      From what I see there is ample opportunity for faculty involvement, but most faculty prefer to leave it to their chairs and deans.

¨      During budget decision period, faculty should be given a printout of the department budget sheet for members to be familiar with what the allocations look like. Faculty should submit their requests in writing. These requests can then be discussed finally in the department meeting.

¨      Knowing earlier in the academic year the amount available for travel and equipment.

¨      In the past budget requests were apparently capricious and led to considerable resentment.  I think this is about to change for the better, however.  We are trying to set up clear guidelines for budget requests, and this will be done by collaboratively deciding on procedures, eligible types of requests, where the $$ comes from & can go to, etc.

¨      Adjuncts could, at least, be asked for their input. 

¨      none for English--we're fine

¨      This is very important to keep on top of.

Negative/Critical

¨      The "Old Dean's Club" (that allows Dean's money to be doled out in mysterious transactions or 'favors' with various recipients) has got to go!

¨      Overall, my concern is with the "lack" of information regarding the Administration's view of academic budget priorities. We may not like what we hear but hearing some specifics would be helpful.

¨      We receive reports on the budget present and future at monthly meetings but are not involved in decisions although widespread dissatisfaction is effective.

¨      It is NOT inclusive at all...do away with this survey. No one pays attention to the results. It’s a joke. There is no communication.

¨      Remove the demi-god status of department heads.

¨      There is little to no transparency or inclusion regarding the budget for my department. I was given a copy of the budgetary decisions which were written by the director, and asked to sign it.

¨      There is no real communication regarding the budget in Computer Services on the administrative side.

¨      The dean of the Business School asks us for our wish list, and then he decides who receives what.  Doesn't seem equitable to me.  There should be a budget committee which makes recommendations to the dean.

¨      We are cut out at the Dean level, whose interest is in her Department not ours.

¨      There should be more information sharing and faculty input regarding school and dept. budget. Lack of info creates distrust and low morale. 

¨      Our department is told that "we won't get much, but that it is important to make requests anyway."  This is rather demoralizing.  Perhaps I need to pay more attention, but it doesn't seem we know how much is available to begin with. 

¨      I think anything would be better that the current- "you get what you get", approach.

¨      We have a fairly open process regarding the budget that the department is in control of.  However, it does not seem that we always have a discussion about requests for lines. This is in part because the department does not meet early enough in the year to be asked for input.  It is also because we have 3 different programs and coordinators are consulted rather than the entire faculty.

¨      Less red tape to actually order supplies. It's insulting that a researcher needs to wait approximately one week for the order to be processed and sent to various offices for signatures. Orders can be held up at any of these points with no feedback to the originator of the request.

¨      It's an extremely inefficient process, which makes research at this institution more difficult.

¨      The decision-making process in terms of the budget has been vague.  No concrete numbers have been presented to help clarify why certain decisions were made.  They seem to be strictly a result of the head of our department's PERSONAL preferences.

¨      Budget format is hard to analyze and gets worse each year. New categories are added for which it is impossible to make budget estimates in a sensible manner. The administration is making it harder and harder to make this process effective.

2) Implementing the Budget Process at the Departmental Level

The Budget, Goals and Plans Committee urges all administrators, constituents and stakeholders to become more involved with the College’s formal Budget Process. This is a responsibility for vice presidents, deans, chairs, directors, faculty and staff alike. All involved need to familiarize themselves with the SUNY New Paltz Budget Process document, which is published in its entirety on the Committee’s Web site at www.newpaltz.edu/budgetcommittee/budgrev.html.

Budget meetings within departments should be announced well in advance, preferably with written copies of the proposed budget distributed to all members for their consideration before meetings. It is primarily the chair’s or director’s responsibility to ensure that a full, frank and open discussion of the budget options takes place. However, individual members of the department or division also need to become actively involved in helping to shape the outcome of their unit’s budget. Nobody should feel threatened or intimidated to question budget allocations or priorities.

Unfortunately, certain units, such as the School of Business, still lack adequate structures to ensure a full, fair and open discussion by all stakeholders of its proposed budgets. It is hoped that the administration will make it a priority to correct these deficiencies without further delay.

The Art Department has a unique approach to budgeting, which suggests ways that certain other departments might approach the issue.

Art Department Facilities and Budget Subcommittee

The Art Department encompasses nine programs which includes Art Education, Foundations, and the Art Studios. Therefore, there is a concern for an equitable distribution of funds and resources.  A meeting of the 26 full time faculty in the Art Department would be unwieldy. The solution was to create a standing subcommittee called Facilities and Budget, which includes one representative from each area/program. The creation of subcommittees in the Department is a strategy to address the many issues that concern the Department. Other standing subcommittees include the Curriculum Committee and the Admissions Committee, due to the complexity of curriculum in the department and the complicated nature of their admissions process.

They have a representative model for the budget process, as well as for these other concerns mentioned. They combine facilities with budget goals because they are often inseparable. At the beginning of each school year, faculty representatives from various program areas identify a faculty representative for each of these standing committees.

All budget deliberations take place within this subcommittee. Each faculty member represents the interests of the program and also reports back to the program. Faculty meetings include reports from the chairs of the subcommittees to the faculty at large. The committees, in this way, make recommendations to the Chair of the Art Department, based on a consensus, so that the process is as transparent as possible.

3) Administration Limiting Inclusion, Transparency and Consultation with Faculty

The Budget, Goals and Plans Committee met on several occasions with the Interim President, the Provost and the Vice President for Administration to discuss issues involving the budget, as well as present and future goals and plans for the New Paltz campus. These meetings are useful, providing welcome opportunities for a productive exchange of information and opinions between the College administration and elected representatives of the faculty and staff here.

The Committee continually reviews the deliberative process on campus regarding the relationship of goals, the Strategic Plan, and budget decisions.  It seeks to encourage a campus-wide commitment to transparency and communication between faculty, professional staff, the administration, and other constituencies.

In particular, there are two developments that may seem benign and unremarkable, but which represent subtle trends in the College’s commitment to representation.  In the past year, a Capital Planning Council was instated.   Membership of the Council includes the Provost, the Vice President for Administration, the College Architect, the Assistant Vice President of Planning and Construction, the Director of Facilities Operations, and the Assistant to the President. 

Believing that issues of space and instructional facilities are often best represented by staff and faculty members who work in these areas, the Budget, Goals and Plans Committee requested in a February 6, 2003, memorandum that membership of the Capital Planning Council be expanded to include representation from the four schools and one college of the university.  It is the Budget, Goals and Plans Committee’s belief that expanded, more representative membership will aid and improve communication and support an environment of shared decision-making.  The Provost did not support this recommendation, stating that the Capital Planning Council, as charged by the Interim President, was not intended to be representative.

Another issue further highlights this move in the direction of limiting inclusion, transparency and consultation. During his presidency, Roger Bowen initiated the Expanded Cabinet.  While the Cabinet met frequently on its own, the meetings were “expanded” three to four times each semester to include the Presiding Officer of the Faculty and the academic deans.  Over a year ago, the Expanded Cabinet was eliminated.  As a result, the Presiding Officer and academic deans no longer have the opportunity to attend and participate in Cabinet meetings.

The Budget, Goals and Plans Committee believes that these two examples indicate a subtle but insistent move to a more hierarchical, “top-down” organizational structure that may diminish more horizontal channels for open, productive communication between administration and faculty and professional staff.  The Committee strongly urges that the administration reconsider and reverse these moves, in the hope that the College will strengthen its commitment to transparency and communication between administration and other campus constituencies.

4) Four-Credit Course Options

The Committee began to examine the impact of four-credit courses on the College. Many classes have been changed from three to four credits in recent years for a variety of reasons. It has been suggested by some that it would be desirable to teach all or most classes at four credits. The

Committee has consulted with the offices of Institutional Research and the Financial Aid to determine the economic impact of such a change and hopes to produce a report for the College in the Fall of 2003. Many colleges and even SUNY Binghamton have four-credit classes for all or most of their curriculum.

From our initial discussions and investigations, it seems that there are significant benefits to teaching more four-credit classes. Faculty teaching twenty credits per semester would teach five courses per year (3/2) instead of six (3/3). Full-time students taking a full course load would earn sixteen credits per semester spread over four courses instead of fifteen credits spread over five classes. Part-time students taking two classes would complete eight credits per semester instead of six. There would be no effect on financial aid for full-time students and indeed there may be a slight benefit from a change to four-credit classes. Full-time students taking sixteen credits per semester over eight semesters would complete 128 credits or finish the current 120-credit requirement half a semester sooner.

On the negative side, students would take fewer classes for more credit hours and would take fewer total classes. There would be an increase in depth with a similar decrease in breadth. General Education would also have to be significantly revised again. Some professional programs would have difficulty meeting mandated requirements with a fewer number of classes, even if the total number of credits in their degree programs remain unchanged.

Budget, Goals and Plans Committee

Peter D.G. Brown, Co-Chair, For. Langs.
Mary Cryer, Co-Chair, Accounting Services
Erik Ekman, For. Langs.
Margaret Ferrara, El. Ed.
Paul Girma, Business
Baback Izadi, Elec. & Com. Eng.
Nancy Johnson, English
Patricia Phillips, Art
Gowri Parameswaram, Ed. Studies
Elizabeth Strickland, Library
Alice Wexler, Art Ed.