FUNDS REMOVED FROM ACADEMIC AFFAIRS
For many years SSU faculty and staff have had concerns about the financial situation on campus and how their programs and schools have been negatively impacted. Seasoned faculty members have been particularly reluctant to voice their concerns because many felt it would be perceived as “the same group of faculty complaining.” The faculty needed new voices and recent discussions in the Senate have provided those voices. The Senate Budget Committee clearly believes that commenting on how budget items are prioritized and how money is spent on this campus comes within its purview. The following is offered as an echo to recent Senate pleas.
The Senate Budget Committee acknowledges the campus has been subject to difficult budgets more than once during the present administration. In times of crises, however, the campus should move to protect its core mission. Has the campus done so? Below, the Senate Budget Committee indicates examples of funding losses to Academic Affairs and the apparent priority of other campus segments for budget support, which we believe suggests the immensity of the problem for the Academic side of the institution.
In addition to the points below that enumerate ways that Academic Affairs has experienced funding leaks, we have provided three attachments. The first compares the 1992-1993 budget to the 2005-2006 budget so we can all see the contrasting rates of growth of different campus divisions, and it also includes some data from the 2001/02 budget to illustrate the decline of money to the schools since then. The second uses data from the CSU central website to spell out how, though the campus General Fund continues to increase, and the number of students continues to increase, the number of faculty do not. The third attachment shows the number of new faculty positions needed each year to meet various possible SFRs.
For those who see our figures as errant we welcome corrections. In fact, the Senate Budget Committee hopes this report will engage faculty and the administration in a conversation about priorities in budgeting.
- 1. Police and parking services in 1997/98 were paid $740,185 from parking revenues and no money for this purpose was drawn from the General Fund. Since 2001/02 over one million dollars per year has been drawn from the General Fund to pay for Parking and Police Services. In 2004/05 parking revenues totaled $1,769,000 but the General Fund was charged $1,059,792 for Police and Parking Services. In that same year $725,426 in parking revenues went to pay off a loan from the Green Music Center parking lot and an additional $300,000 were owed “to the Green Music Center Project.”
- 2. When the freshman EMT program was established in the 1990s the administration helped sell the program by pointing out that its costs would be borne mainly by profits from the campus housing operations. In 1994/95 through 1996/97 Housing funds provided $350,000 per year to Academic Affairs for the costs of EMT. From 1997/98 onward that support eventually dwindled to zero, meaning the costs must now be borne by the General Fund.
- 3. In 1992/93 instructional units had a “Replacement and Support Equipment” budget of $500,000 in the initial allocation, reflecting previous years’ practice. That budget line was later removed and has never been restored. Irregular equipment dollars have been granted to Academic Affairs units from time to time, but no planning is possible given present arrangements, and aged equipment abounds.
- 4. Until the turn of the millennium the campus had a three-year rotation of computer refresh. In 1999/2000 and prior years there is there is a line item in the budget for $130,000 for faculty work stations, the last year that item appeared (though in 2000/01, $100,000 was set aside for non-faculty work stations). Since no refresh program has existed for several years, it represents another loss of roughly $130,000 annually to Academic Affairs.
- 5. Department Chair release time was formerly budgeted from Academic Affairs. This budget item was removed in 1997 and never returned. It means that such release time is now paid for out of department teaching allocations, thus reducing class availability for our students. This loss amounts to approximately $500,000 annually (Source: Multiplying the number of departments on campus by an average estimate of release time—4 units– by $1500/unit for part-time replacements).
- 6. The campus formerly covered payout expenses for grants and contracts. Those operations are now paid for by loans from the Sonoma State University Academic Foundation which charges the campus interest that amounts to a loss to Academic Affairs of over $500,000 for 2005/06 and a profit to the Foundation. This cost was instituted in 2003/2004 when the fee amounted to $30,000. This means 65 percent of the Indirect Costs now flow to Administration and Finance in one way or another. The amount going to Financial and Human Resource Management alone increased from $635,000 in 2003/2004 to $966,527 in 2005/2006. The allocation goal of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs for 2005/2006 has a SHORTFALL projected at $512, 716 (Source: report presented at AABAC, 3/28/2006). While A & F is able to collect indirect cost revenue for its services, Academic Affairs cannot, yet administrative assistants in departments may contribute as much as 25 percent of their time in grant-related tasks.
- 7. The campus annually enforces assessments to its academic units that may amount to a million dollars or more annually (e.g., in 2005-06 these charge backs amounted to $366,000 in the School of Social Sciences alone). This means that on an annual basis the growth monies, or a substantial portion of the amount actually received, are removed through assessments. The budget that is printed represents the picture prior to the implementation of these assessments, but the amount that flows to the academic side is always reduced through these levies. (Source: AA budget presentations and School budget presentations over a series of years).
- 8. Academic Affairs units are charged for services performed by Administration and Finance staff, whether it be a computer connection, a broken lock or need for a different door. The represents money that flows out of Academic Affairs (thus reducing the academic budget) and augments the Administration and Finance budget (Source: Actual figures have not been made available).
- 9. The budget line for the Center for the Performing Arts (CPA) has increased from $237,066 in 1996/97 to $558,393 in 2005/06, much of this related to the Green Music Center. (The IRA support for the CPA has gone from $197,664 in 2001/02 to $407,709 in 2005/06.) In contrast, the OE budget for the Department of Chemistry has been $10,500 every year since 1998/99—never increased.
- 10. One faculty analysis of the budget for faculty salaries over the last eight years suggests that, given the increases in state monies available over that time and the amount spent on faculty salaries, Academic Affairs has lost an average of over $5,000,000 dollars annually. (Source: See Attachment B, Steve Orlick’s analysis of Sonoma State University’s annual growth money augmentations).
- 11. WHAT’S AHEAD:
A. The initial budget projection for Academic Affairs for 2006/2007 estimates a SHORTFALL of $457,280 (Source: AABAC presentation, 4/25/06). B. A budget analysis Sharon Cabaniss prepared for EPC indicates that the The First Year Experience pilot program will cost $536,400 compared to $189,348 under present arrangements. In other words, an extra $347,052 (over two years) demand on Academic Affairs’ limited funds (see item “A.”). C. The budget for the Development Office amounted to $204,410 in 1992/93. From 1997 onward the staff and budget of this office has expanded dramatically to reach $693,476 in 2005/06. For 2006/07 the administration has mandated that Academic Affairs will contribute an extra $100,000 to the Development Office to hire yet more staff (Source: AABAC presentation, 4/25/06). D. The administration has presented an initial bill of $620,000 for Green Music Center support from Academic Affairs for academic year 2007/2008(Source: AABAC presentation, 4/25/06).
Beginning in the late 1990s various activities that were previously funded elsewhere are now paid for from the General Fund, resulting over time in seriously reduced budgets (in proportion of General Fund dollars) to Academic Affairs. Some of the outcomes of insufficient funding include high SFRs, the lack of equipment budgets, reduced faculty travel money, reduced Academic Affairs staffing, and a situation where, by the administration’s own reckoning, 85-90 percent of all Academic Affairs computers are over 4 years of age. Deans have been forced to use FERP money (salary savings) to meet assessments and other unfunded needs, resulting in dwindling numbers of tenure line faculty in many departments. Academic planning disappeared from this campus for several years and we are left with situations such as a Chemistry Department with no tenured faculty and a chair from another department, a Geology Department with one tenured faculty member, and an Anthropology Department with only two tenured faculty members. In many of our searches we no longer are able to hire our first choices; we are unable to retain many young faculty we do hire because of the lack of resources in Academic Affairs, and other faculty are considering positions elsewhere. The School of Business has been seeking accreditation for its Business program for several years, but continuous underfunding has made this impossible. A recent accreditation team report made this clear. The degree of underfunding is at least $500,000 worth of needed faculty.
All projections for growth money for future years depend on meeting substantially increased FTE targets. Sonoma State University did not meet its target in 2005/2006 and has lowered its criteria for admission to the base CSU standard in order to try to meet the increased targets. If future targets are missed Academic Affairs could endure even greater shortfalls, yet built-in costs outside of Academic Affairs continue to mount.
The Senate Budget Committee recommends the Academic Senate request the administration to re-evaluate budget priorities in order to address the campus’ core academic needs, such as lowering SFR, insuring a regular computer refresh program, establishing an equipment purchase and replacement program, and providing for more faculty development.
Sources: Unless otherwise indicated, all numbers in this report come from the annual operating budgets or expenditure plans provided by the Sonoma State University administration.