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Shirvani predicts brighter budget for university

POSTED March 9, 2010 11:20 p.m.

The depth and scope of state budget cuts has yet to be finalized, but California State University, Stanislaus is in good shape to weather whatever the storm may bring, according to President Hamid Shirvani.

“I believe that the budget cut is not going to be as severe as you may think,” Shirvani said as he addressed the faculty Academic Senate on Tuesday. “… That doesn’t mean it won’t affect anybody, but it does mean it won’t affect a lot of people.”

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed 2010 state budget calls for $305 million in restored funding to the CSU system. Should that additional funding be retained in the final adopted budget, Shirvani said no cuts would be needed at CSU Stanislaus and the university may even grow slightly.

Should the legislature opt not to restore funding, simply holding levels on par with 2009, cuts may be minimal.

CSU Stanislaus was able to meet this year’s budget through $4.5 million in savings generated by teacher furloughs. The continuation of furloughs is unlikely though, Shirvani said, which could mean the university would face a $5.5 to $6.5 million budget gap, factoring in the continually increasing cost of benefits.

The university does have $1.17 million in one-time stimulus, and expects to save an additional $1 million in 2010 by replacing Winter term with a three-week inter-session. With those funding sources, the deficit facing the university under a 2009-equivalent budget would amount to approximately $3 to $4 million. 

“However, we don’t know,” Shirvani said. “If there are going to be additional cuts that may come down, whether mid-year or just as the budget comes down, that’s going to be an additional cost.”

To plan for the worst-case scenario, Shirvani has directed the school’s deans to draft scenarios where 5, 10, and 15 percent of their departments’ budgets are cut. Those cuts could be deep, as departments are already running with slim budgets due to past years’ cuts.

Shirvani has requested the proposals not to consider across the board percentage reductions, but instead target specific programs. He said that across the board cuts would hurt all programs too much, and damage the core liberal arts education.

The intention is to continue to deliver a quality education – albeit to a smaller number of students – despite budgetary restrictions, according to Shirvani.

“Certainly, no one likes this scenario, and I hope it will not be the scenario we have to face,” Shirvani wrote in a letter explaining the budget situation to students this week.

While Shirvani said he will postpone making a decision as long as possible to await budget news from the state, a plan has to be submitted by May 1, long before the budget will be finalized. The early date is required for layoff or nonreappointment notices under labor laws.

Shirvani’s final budget proposal will pass through faculty governance processes, including the Senate Executive Committee and the University Budget Advisory Committee, for adjustments before final approval.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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