CSUN’s 2005-06 budget starts to bandage old cuts

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The recently released 2005-06 CSUN operating budget details significant increases in funding for faculty recruitment and enrollment growth, and reflects the university’s partial recovery from budget cuts that had stunted growth in recent years.

The new $257 million budget represents the first year of the higher education compact between the governor and CSU and UC systems, according to John Chandler, CSUN spokesperson.

He said the compact looks to restore funding for CSU and the UC that was missing in the last budget cycles in previous years.

“It’s basically been absent for the last three years,” Chandler said.

One of the most significant changes to this year’s budget compared with last year’s is the lack of significant cuts caused by a state budget deficit.

“This year we had one minor, unidentified reduction, and that was it,” said Ron Clouse, director of budget planning and management at CSUN. “This is the first of several years where predominantly we had growth, primarily from enrollment growth.”

In looking at the 2005-06 CSUN operating budget, there seems to be no significant difference in Academic Affairs in terms of its colleges from last year to this year. The Academic Affairs division received $113 in funding in the new budget.

Renee Venezia, manager of payroll administration at CSUN Human Resources said she does not see much of a difference in the new budget.

Venezia said that from a personnel standpoint, however, that it is rare for a department to stay on budget.

“You have people coming and going,” she said.

Admissions and Records was given a permanent allocation for Year-Round Operations for summer 2006, and it also received an extra $190,000 for YRO.

In previous semesters, summer session was handled through the Tseng College of Extended Learning. Beginning in Summer 2006, and following a five-year transition to state-support YRO, summer session will be handled by the regular university, meaning more work and management needs from Admissions and Records, among others.

This transition will effectively make the summer semester into a third academic term.

“It will not go through Extended Learning,” Clouse said. “(Students will) pay (their) fees to the university instead of Extended Learning. The fee structure will still be the same. (Students will) still (pay) the same university fees, but it will go directly to the university.”

Because full YRO is coming in Summer 2006, Clouse said there needed to be permanent base funding to prepare for it.

Therefore, the funding went to Admissions and Records and Financial Aid and Scholarships, he said, so the departments can get geared up and get permanent staff placed to handle the transition.

Another sizeable allocation in the new budget includes an enrollment growth in Academic Affairs, which is in the second year of a budgetary plan that looks to diffuse the budget cuts of previous years over a three-year period.

Clouse said $2.17 million was allocated for new faculty hiring and support for new positions during the enrollment growth period.

Last year all 23 CSU campuses experienced an enrollment cut. In mid-July, however, as part of the new 2005-06 state budget, it was decided by lawmakers that the CSU would expand student enrollment, and CSUN received money to do so.

“We were able to make it, we came awfully close,” Clouse said of the increased enrollment target.

In response to the need for more full-time faculty on campus, the president also provided a supplementary allocation of $1 million for faculty positions.

Staff benefits have also greatly increased since last year, with more than $7 million of the budget going into that allocation. Clouse said the two main components of benefit increase are retirement and the health and dental fund.

According to Clouse, those health costs are going up at double-digit rates. He said there has also been an increase toward health insurance.

Clouse said there has now been a permanent allocation within the budget that will make up for the increase of employee retirement from the previous year, which was increasing at a rate of 17 percent.

The budget also reflects a cost savings worth more than $100,000. The sum comes from a license the university had with Oracle, a software platform behind the PeopleSoft technology, which is run through Information Technology Resources.

“The Oracle license fee is going to drop for this particular year,” Clouse said. Because ITR does not need the money to cover that cost, it is being funneled back to the university.

An 8 percent student fee hike also produced extra revenue for the university. Last year, the university took in $68 million from these fees; this year, it’s $76 million.

“In the past, if you look at the budget cuts from last year, there was a significant cut in state dollars, part of which was off-set by increases in student fees,” Clouse said.

“Because of the budget of the state required cuts to the CSU, they increase the state university fees to offset some of the cuts,” he added.

One new addition to the operating budget is the President’s Priorities/Operational Reserve, which is allocated $1.3 million in funding.

Clouse said the reserve contains permanent base level money specifically for the president’s use.

Chandler said this allocation is meant to cushion against the prospect of mid-year budget reductions that the state implemented in past years.

“We aren’t expecting it this year, because the budget is better this year,” he said.

Once it is decided that the reserve aspect of this allocations is not needed, the president will be free to use the funds to focus on specific projects, such as an initiative or a special equipment purchase.

“The $1.3 million would be allocated for the president for a one-time basis for different projects around campus,” he said, adding that the reserve has not yet been used.

Other major budget allocations include $6.8 million to Information Technology Resources, $11.8 million to Student Affairs, $3.1 million to Intercollegiate Athletics, $20.6 million to Administration and Finance, and $3.2 million to University Advancement.

“The university has strategic priorities and things that we are trying to accomplish that are new or different,” Chandler said. “It has been very difficult for the last couple of years because the budget environment was so bad and it’s hard to set any money aside when you’re in years of budget reductions.”

John Barundia can be reached at jcb44123@csun.edu.