Cuts coming to campus

Bryan Cole / The Collegian

In response to state budget cuts, the California State University system is now facing a $31.3 million reduction in the 2008-2009 budget, $1.7 million of which will come from Fresno State.

CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed announced yesterday that due to the current national economic crisis, the state department of finance informed state agencies and departments, such as the CSU system, that a total of $390 million of the state General Fund will need to be cut.

“California is experiencing very difficult economic times with seven straight months of job losses, and unemployment’s now at the third-highest level among the 50 states,” Reed said in a statement. “This has all had an impact on the 2008-2009 budget signed by the governor on Sept. 23.”

Originally, California’s newly signed budget afforded $2.97 billion out of the state General Fund for the CSU system. One month after the passage of the budget, the state is reducing those CSU funds by $31.3 million.

For Fresno State this means a $1,706,600 reduction in spending.

“There really is an impact across the university,” Welty said. “When you defer a repair that needs to be done, obviously it impacts whomever’s using that building or service. When we aren’t able to fund research projects, it impacts the faculty member and graduate students.”

Yesterday, President John D. Welty announced steps to comply with these demands.

Developed in consultation with Welty’s cabinet, these steps include an immediate freeze on all position vacancies, an immediate freeze on all faculty searches and an across-the-board 3 percent reduction in operating costs.

“Some offices may have to reduce the number of hours of service, or it may take a little bit longer to get something done in an office if they have a vacant position,” Welty said. “We’re going to try to minimize the disruption as much as possible.”

Currently, there are 35 open staff, managerial and student positions listed online at In addition, there are 25 open faculty positions in seven of the eight colleges on campus. Due to the $1.7 million in budget cuts, all of these open faculty positions are closed unless reviewed and approved by the provost.

Additional reductions will be made to previously approved funding, including a reduction of $320,000 to Plan for Excellence projects, $250,000 to graduate division projects, $250,000 from deferred maintenance and an additional $50,000 in technology.

The Strategic Plan for Excellence III began in 2006 and is set to conclude at the centennial in 2011. This plan includes not only the campus master plan, but also the development and enhancement of learning, research, additional graduate programs and civic engagement opportunities.

“It means that things we hoped to get done this year will be delayed into next year or maybe even longer,” Welty said, although he pointed out that these cuts will not effect current construction projects such as the Henry Madden Library and the Peace Garden.

The addition and growth of graduate programs, however, will be impacted by the cuts to both the Plan for Excellence and the graduate division.

“Much of that money was to be made available to faculty for research projects and to some graduate students for projects,” Welty said. “So that means we won’t be able to fund a number of the projects we hoped to fund this year.”

These cuts compound the fact that the original state budget awarded to the CSU system was $215 million less than what was needed to meet enrollment growth and fund other operational expenses.

In his announcement, Reed said that there was a possibility of additional mid-year cuts. With this in mind, Reed has asked CSU presidents to review the impact of possible additional cuts.

“The priority is to make sure that we make classes available for students that we outlined in the spring schedule,” Welty said. “After that, safety on campus is a priority.”

These additional cuts may be dependant on the revenues flowing into the state treasury, which is already $1 billion below what was expected. It is estimated that the total budget shortfall will be between $3 billion and $4.6 billion. If this is the case, both Reed and Welty are stressing the importance of funding higher education because of its critical role in the state’s economy.

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