While Fresno State continues to cut costs in response to a weakened budget, students and faculty continue to pay the price. The campus is working with a 10 percent faculty loss this year.
The cut increases employee workloads and, in turn, can decrease the quality of instruction and services available to students.
Since President John D. Welty first announced the new school year’s tentative budget plan back in April, employee furloughs have ended. But approximately 46 state-funded managers and staff were scheduled to be laid off or retire, according to a university news press release.
Paul DeRuosi, the director of University Scholarships and a fundraiser for the Division of Student Affairs, said the impact it has on offices and departments is definitely noticeable, but some are hit harder than others. He and his office staff are under constant pressure to keep up with the work.
“Our real challenge is to do the same as we did last year for students with less [staff],” he said.
DeRuosi said the amount of scholarships available today has significantly increased from what it was 10 years ago, and when analysts have to process up to 3,000 scholarships and pay attention to all the special criteria from donors to determine eligible students, it can be daunting. This semester he lost one of the two analysts in his office.
“We use a student assistant to help,” he said. “It’s great but it doesn’t replace staff.”
DeRuosi is doing his best to stay positive during the increased workload.
“We are now in a position where we need to pick up the pieces, figure out how to work smarter, streamline wherever possible, and do it a little faster…and we are certainly open for business and that hasn’t changed.”
Many students during the first week of school experienced very long lines in the Joyal Administration building and elsewhere, lines that stretched all the way from the cashiers down entire hallways.
“The students are going to have to be patient,” said Nancy Kobata, the president of the CSU Employees Union, Fresno Chapter. “It’s going to be extremely frustrating for both the students and the staff.”
Dr. Welty previously acknowledged the impact of the eliminated positions on April 23 when he first announced layoffs to faculty and staff.
Other departments and offices are also trying to exhibit patience and understanding to students despite having lost important, specialized positions.
Melissa Gibson, chair of the department of theatre arts, explained that their lighting and sound technician was laid off and three other positions received time-based reductions. However, much like the goal of the scholarships office, the department still plans on keeping the same number of shows as last year, she said.
“We want to offer the same kind of shows to the public,” Gibson said. “I kind of hope the audience doesn’t notice.”
With the return of students to campus, the effects of the budget cuts are expected to become a reality.
Gibson said that it is not the fault of the students or administration, but rather the state legislature.
“It’s a bigger impact than just a handful of people who are losing their jobs.”
DeRuosi expressed similar sentiments: “This is our labor pull and if you want a strong valley, if you want a strong region, we’re going to have to look to these folks and make sure that students are successful and that they’re fully equipped to do exactly that.”