Mar 012009
 
Authors: Elyse Jarvis

Anticipating a $13.1 million budget shortfall, Interim CSU President Tony Frank announced Friday that the university will proceed with previously prepared budget reduction scenarios, which include cuts to administration and all areas of academics.

In an e-mail to the CSU community, Frank said the deficit stems from the $6.7 million the university must give back to Colorado’s General Fund to make up for state shortages and $6.35 million coming from increased benefit costs, a decline in out-of-state student enrollment and state deficits in interest earnings.

Additionally, the projection includes money the university designated last year to rebuild and reposition its athletics program.

The projected $13.1 million shortage does not include cuts that the university will face in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. That amount may be “less dramatic” than the $5 million cut that’s anticipated, Frank said.

Upon hearing of looming state budget cuts at the end of last year, Frank cut administrative positions to create a $1.5 million reserve fund. $2.6 million in additional institutional reserves and $500,000 in stock holdings will also be utilized to make up for funding shortfalls.

The remaining amount will come from a 3 percent average cut to academic units and a 6 percent average cut to administrative units.

Interim Provost Rick Miranda said every academic college’s budget has been assessed in accordance with the university-wide cuts.

“Every unit on campus has been asked to contribute to this rescission. Nearly every department of every college will be affected,” he said.

Miranda said that while no instructional or additional administrative positions will be axed this spring, staff members may be asked to take reassignments or different duties come fall semester.

“Any effect on our courses for this spring semester will not be seen,” he said.

Frank said a surge in both undergraduate and graduate applications for next year and potential funds from President Obama’s economic recovery package may help offset the deficit, but for now, proceeding with the projection is necessary.

“Even if the state is able to reduce its portion of the rescission for this year through one-time bridge funds and stimulus assistance — we, as a campus, still must deal with the ongoing and significant impact of the economic downturn and increasing mandatory costs,” he said.

In his e-mail, Frank insisted the university will strive to ensure cuts to the classroom are minimal, though he said individual units may eliminate positions to meet “their share” of the budget reduction.

“Although it is too early to know how many positions could be impacted, we anticipate that it will come to less than 1 percent of our permanent, non-faculty workforce, and that no permanent faculty lines will be affected,” he said.

While no mandatory furloughs will be implemented to offset costs in this fiscal year, Frank said they might be an option in the next one.

Additionally, Frank said CSU’s 10 in-progress construction projects are financed with bonds and cannot be cut.

“Stopping these projects is not a viable option because we are legally obligated to use the bond proceeds for those construction projects that we identified to the bond investors at the time of sale,” he said.

In his first address to the student government Senate just over two weeks ago, Frank recommended the Student Fee Review Board raise student fees $15 to assist the athletics department.

Frank said the fee is vital in funding the struggling department.

“CSU spends the lowest amount on athletics in the state and yet has one of the highest graduation rates of athletes,” Frank told the Senate.

Miranda said Friday that the administration is hoping that the SFRB continues to consider the student fee increase.

News Managing Editor Elyse Jarvis can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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