College prepares $6 million deficit reduction plan
Facing deep cuts to its state-appropriated operating budget, exacerbated by an unprecedented sweep of student tuition dollars to refill general state coffers, the State University of New York at New Paltz has prepared a deficit reduction plan of $6 million for the 2009-10 year. The plan has been designed to preserve the academic core of the college, honor tenure, minimize the impact on its workforce, allow it to maintain an adequate reserve and position itself to make critical investments.
For the past several months, the college’s administrative and academic leadership, in a broadly consultative process with the campus community, has examined revenue-generating ideas and instructional and non-instructional cost-saving measures. As a result of this collaboration, the college established a set of ground rules, constraints and criteria for decisions to be used throughout as a guide in determining how to fill the college’s budget deficit for 2009-10. Details of the plan have been shared with the campus.
The majority of recommended cuts—$3.7 million—will come from non-instructional areas, while $2.3 million will come from the instructional budget. First, the college is proposing a series of new revenue ideas that will generate about $250,000 annually. The college has also developed a target of $640,000 for cost-saving measures in non-personnel expenses (supplies and contracts), and an additional $325,000 reduction in energy use.
The college has taken every measure to offset the budget cuts through revenue generation and reductions in non-personnel expenses. However, given the magnitude of the cuts, the college cannot solve this problem through revenue generation and reductions in non-personnel expenses alone. Because 84 percent of the college’s budget is in personnel, it must reduce the size of its workforce and scale back or eliminate some services.
To that end, the college is also proposing the consolidation and elimination of services in several areas on campus, the phasing out of the Nursing Program and the suspension of admission to a variety of low-enrolled graduate programs. These actions will lead to efficiencies and the loss of approximately 70 positions through retirements, attrition and non renewals of contracts. The college is honoring all legal contracts with these employees. The Office of Human Resources is assisting employees with their questions and concerns. All affected individuals have been notified.
“These decisions were not made easily,” said President Steven Poskanzer. “The severe economic recession has hit New York especially hard, and the recently-enacted state budget drives those consequences home to New Paltz in a most direct and painful way. It is distressing that SUNY’s state-operated campuses have been hit harder than any other segment of New York’s educational institutions and it is particularly egregious that the new budget fundamentally breached faith with students and their families by sweeping 80 percent of the additional tuition charged.”
Phase out of Nursing Program
The college is planning to phase out its Nursing Program. Effective immediately, the college will not admit any new students into the Nursing Program for fall 2009.
• All students currently enrolled in the Nursing Program will have the opportunity to graduate before the Nursing program closes.
• Provost David Lavallee has spoken to the provost at SUNY Delhi, who has agreed to guarantee admission to its online Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program to the 11 students accepted for fall 2009.
• Once currently enrolled students are finished, New Paltz will no longer offer the Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and the Certificate of Advance Study (CAS) in Nursing.
• The college will honor all contractual obligations with faculty and staff currently working in the program. No one is being retrenched.
• Nursing currently has five full-time faculty, with one new hire set to begin in fall 2009, two adjuncts and one secretary in the program.
About the Nursing Program
While there is a genuine need for more nurses, it is important to recognize that this upper-division, transfer-only program does not create new nurses. All students who enroll are already registered nurses. But New Paltz does create better nurses, and our graduate program trains nursing educators and nursing administrators.
“We deeply regret that we will no longer contribute to society in this way. We will need to find other ways to serve our region and state,” said Poskanzer.
Why we have made this decision
The decision to phase out Nursing has not been made because of questions about the quality of this program or the success of its graduates. “To the contrary,” said Poskanzer, “this is a good program and the college is proud of it, but in this budgetary climate, the college simply cannot continue to do everything it currently does.”
• Nursing is an expensive program on a cost-per-student basis compared with other academic offerings.
• The program is not closely linked to our liberal arts core.
• New Paltz has had difficulty recruiting, retaining and awarding tenure to fully credentialed nursing faculty, in no small part because of a national shortage of nursing faculty.
• There are several schools in the region that compete for a very small population of people who go on to pursue their B.S. and M.S. in Nursing, including SUNY Delhi, Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh and Excelsior College.
Suspending Admission to Several Low-Enrolled Graduate Programs
The college plans to suspend admission to the following Master of Science in Education (MS Ed.) and Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) programs, beginning this fall:
o Earth Science
These programs are not being de-activated in a formal sense, but rather suspended for now. As with Nursing, all currently enrolled students will be offered the opportunity to complete their program. This action affects 41 current students and four students offered admission for fall 2009.
Why we have made this decision
All of these graduate programs have historically (for the last 20 years) been unable to attract substantial enrollment, notwithstanding efforts by the School of Education, the Admissions office and local schools. While many of these are high-need subject areas, the magnitude of the college’s budget cuts precludes it from continuing to underwrite programs that have consistently had such small demand.
As these programs wind down, the college will ask its full-time faculty to teach instead high-demand core subjects at the undergraduate level. As a result, the college will be able to use fewer adjuncts.
Over the next several years, because the college is not deactivating these programs, faculty in affected departments will have the opportunity to recast their approach to graduate education in these fields in ways that meet the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School and the Provost and will attract viable enrollments.
The college continues to anticipate how the state’s fiscal situation may evolve in the coming and subsequent fiscal years. If SUNY is cut further, the college will use the established ground rules, constraints and criteria for decisions to determine what this may mean for New Paltz.
“We are going to position ourselves so that when the recession ends, we’re ready to make immediate progress rather than just trying to recoup lost ground,” said President Steven Poskanzer. “We are, and will remain, one of the finest public colleges in the Northeast.”
More information about the $6 million deficit reduction plan is available online at http://budget.newpaltz.edu. Further questions about these budget reductions should be directed to the Office of Public Affairs at (845) 257-3245.
Located in the heart of a dynamic college town, 90 minutes from metropolitan New York City, the State University of New York at New Paltz is a highly selective college of about 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
One of the most well-regarded public colleges in the nation, New Paltz delivers an extraordinary number of majors in Business, Liberal Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Fine and Performing Arts and Education.
New Paltz embraces its culture as a community where talented and independent minded people from around the world create close personal links with real scholars and artists who love to teach.