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CSU Stanislaus braces for share of budget cuts

CSU Stanislaus braces for share of budget cuts

Cal State Stanislaus housing staff members Dominique Quick and Gwen Page help The Village's new residents move in last August. Incoming students are facing a 20 percent fee increase.


POSTED July 24, 2009 10:50 p.m.
The $584 million budget deficit that has walloped the California State University system will translate into enrollment reduction, higher fees and “furlough Fridays” at the CSU Stanislaus campus.
CSU Stanislaus’ share of the budget gap is approximately $14 million. The amount was reduced to between $8 million and $9 million through fee increases and management and staff furloughs. The gap was further whittled down on Thursday night, when the California Faculty Association agreed to take 24 furlough days through out the year.
For students, the budget cuts will mean increased fees, stricter enrollment requirements and a campus that will look like a ghost town at least two Fridays out of the month. The CFA is still negotiating a calendar for when to take their furlough days, but it is not expected to interfere with classes scheduled on Fridays.
Even after all the furloughs, fee increases and enrollment reductions, CSU Stanislaus will still be looking at a budget shortfall between $5 million to $9 million, though the number is more likely to fall between $5 million and $6 million, according to university officials.
“It is impossible to define the enormity of this economic meltdown and its devastating impact on higher education,” said CSU Stanislaus President Hamid Shirvani. “For California State University, Stanislaus, we are talking about decreasing access in an area where higher education is the key to economic development and prosperity.”
On Tuesday, the CSU Board of Trustees voted to increase student fees by 20 percent. Effective in fall 2009, full-time fees will increase by $672 for undergraduate students, $780 for teacher credential students and $828 for graduate students. This increase is in addition to the $306 fee increase for full-time undergraduates that was adopted in May. An undergraduate student at CSU Stanislaus will now be paying between $3,148 and $4,840 annually, depending on how many units they take.
Despite the actions recently taken by the CSU to cut expenditures, the 23-campus system could still possibly face employee lay-offs, increased class sizes, reduced course offerings, and the elimination of some programs.
In anticipation of the major cuts coming down the pipeline, the University Budget Advisory Committee, consisting of faculty, administration, staff, and a student representative, issued two reports recommending a course of actions for the university’s financial future. In addition, college deans and vice presidents have been regularly meeting with Shirvani to discuss options and develop budget proposals, said university spokesperson Kristin Olsen.
A variety of budget documents and options are being reviewed as part of the planning process before CSU Stanislaus submits a proposal for achieving its share of the cuts to the CSU chancellor, Olsen said. The deadline for budget proposals is Aug. 31.
“All programs must be reviewed and carefully scrutinized in order to identify cost reductions that will enable us to act quickly and responsibly,” said Herman Lujan, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at CSU Stanislaus. “It will be a painful, but necessary, process.”   
The university has already reduced operating and maintenance expenses, eliminated some management and staff positions, as well as some part-time lecturers, and reduced by nearly half the summer course offerings. Recently CSU Stanislaus, along with the other CSU campuses, closed 2010 winter and spring admissions to new and transferring students.
“We only exist to serve students, and our top priority will continue to be quality instruction and service to students,” Shirvani said. “As a public university, we are accountable to the public and to our students and, therefore, must make responsible decisions in the face of these challenging economic times.”
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.
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