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President Koester discusses furloughs and enrollment cuts at staff budget forum

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Staff and faculty members gathered in the Presentation Room of the Oviatt Library on Sept. 8 to discuss the staff budget for the upcoming academic year.

University President Jolene Koester started by listing the changes that have and will take place in regards to the budget for the 2009-10 academic year.

Koester said the State Appropriation Budget has been reduced by about 24 percent compared to 2007, which is a  $41 million reduction.

Of the $41 million, $13 million is obtained from the increased student fees, and furlough days are expected to save the university $19 million. $2 million is taken from the University’s reserve and the remaining $7 million is distributed among its divisions.

Koester said furloughs are not expected for the 2010-11 academic year.

“Academic Affairs takes the biggest hit, $4.9 million, because they are the biggest part of the university’s overall budget, but each of the divisions of the university takes a reduction,” Koester said.

She also said the university vice presidents anticipate more reductions this year and most of them have been making changes to their base budgets.

“The challenge is preparing the university for 2010-11… we simply don’t know what the State’s decision on budgets for the California State University will be in 2010-11,” Koester said.

Next on the agenda was the topic of enrollment. This year the enrollment was reduced by about 3,000 students and the same is expected for next year.

“We are doing this because the State of California has not provided to the CSU or to the Cal State Northridge sufficient money to justify having more enrollment… to reduce this campus’ enrolment 6,000 students in two years frankly is scary, difficult, hurtful to the institution proposition,” continued Koester.

A few plans are in the workings to ensure a more successful year. An enrollment plan will focus on bringing enrollment down for next year and, if possible, bring it back up the following year.

There is a budget plan for the year 2009-10 and a new one is being developed for 2010-11 and 2011-12.

The third plan will focus on administrative processes and a way to eliminate unnecessary procedures or change the way they’re performed in order to generate savings. These plans will be based on different assumptions in accordance with revenue.

A Web site will soon be available which will allow staff members to share suggestions about how to transform some of the academic and administrative functions across the university.

The consequences of the budget cuts were discussed shortly after. The enrollment reduction, for example, has strongly affected the Associated Students who run their activities based on a fee paid by students and with the loss of students they will suffer financially. The University Student Union, Residential Life and the University Corporation are also casualties.

“University Corporation has seen a reduction in food service across the campus. They’re going have to reduce their work force… When you go over to your favorite Freudian Sip and it’s closed at a particular point in time, which it could be because of a lack of overall traffic, understand that the consequence to the corporation of the reduction in people on campus is also pretty significant.” Koester said.

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