During Wednesday nightâ€™s student government senate meeting, CSU President Tony Frank presented the second draft of the universityâ€™s fiscal year 2013 budget, which projected heightened cuts to state higher education funding and at least a 9 percent tuition increase for in-state undergraduate students.
While Frank said he was happy with the initial draft of the budget, which he presented in June, an announced $100 million cut to state higher education spending by Gov. John Hickenlooperâ€™s office and Coloradoâ€™s continued economic woes have left his administration with a more than $12 million shortfall to compensate for in order to balance the budget.
â€œWhatâ€™s devastating about this from a morale perspective is that we didnâ€™t expect it,â€ Frank said. â€œItâ€™s something thatâ€™s going to present a real challenge.â€
The budget currently allows for a 3 percent salary increase for faculty members who have experienced a three-year pay freeze.
However, Frank added that as his administration brainstorms how to fill the $12 million gap, the salary increase may be something that is put on the backburner, especially if the state of Colorado decides to continue its four-year pay freeze for state-classified employees.
Compared to Frankâ€™s June budget projections, Wednesday nightâ€™s presentation included a $16 million decrease in state funding and a $4 million increase in tuition revenue, which came from a higher than expected rise in enrollment.
â€œI really appreciated Frankâ€™s effort and sincerity in sharing this with us, but there are definitely some ominous underpinnings, especially considering the economic climate,â€ said Chase Eckerdt, the director of Governmental Affairs for the Associated Students of CSU.
Following this yearâ€™s 20 percent tuition increase, Frank said he aims to increase tuition by only 9 percent this year, although the Colorado Commission on Higher Education has given the university approval for up to a 12 percent tuition hike.
â€œI am very, very reluctant to look at a double digit tuition increase,â€ Frank said, adding that while in-state enrollment stayed steady this year, he didnâ€™t want to risk losing in-state students via large tuition hikes.
The key to balancing the budget, Frank emphasized, will be adding more revenue streams (mainly through tuition increases) and finding areas that could stand to be cut.
While he said he was opposed to uniform cuts across the board, he said that he was open to vertical cuts, or the elimination of entire programs.
â€œBut, I honestly canâ€™t identify a single program where we lose revenue, so I donâ€™t know if vertical cuts are the right solution,â€ Frank added.
The finalized FY 2013 budget will be presented to the Board of Governors at the retreat next June. In the meantime, Frank said the goal is, â€œfinding that perfect balance, which is something that we need a lot of input about.â€
Prior to Frankâ€™s budget presentation, he was joined by Vice President for Advancement Brett Anderson and Vice President for Student Affairs Blanche Hughes to solicit ASCSU feedback on how to increase alumni participation at the university.
â€œOur challenge is to get students to be more involved as alumni,â€ Frank said.
Anderson added that as state funding is decreasing, private contributions are starting to play a bigger role in making sure that students still have access to the university.
â€œMany people donâ€™t realize how important private funding is,â€ Anderson said. â€œIf the campus is run on tuition alone, the school year would end in October.â€
He said alumni participation is particularly crucial because it plays a role in CSUâ€™s national rankings. Currently, the university is in the bottom 10 percent of universities in terms of alumni involvement, and this is a number that the administration aims to increase.
â€œWhen I first came here, I was shocked at the lack of connection we have to alums,â€ Hughes said, adding that she thinks alumni have been getting more involved.
â€œI think that alumni participation is very, very important, and itâ€™s very meaningful and itâ€™s something we should all do,â€ said ASCSU Vice President Rachel Roberson.
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