This is a very challenging time for the college financially. As you know, our state purpose funding was cut $1.7 million this year, and we are anticipating another cut mid-year. We have virtually depleted our recurring reserves, the money that funds personnel and ongoing programs. The Cabinet has instituted a vacancy review process for three reasons: 1) to direct our resources to where they best serve the mission of the college; 2) to avoid layoffs and program retrenchments; and 3) to rebuild our reserve to cover this year’s cut and to position the college to deal with future cuts.
On September 21 the Cabinet met with the goal of identifying $500,000 in savings. We used three strategies: 1) leaving some positions vacant; 2) filling some positions at lower salary levels; and 3) reorganizing to consolidate services where feasible. We started with a total of 55 requests to fill positions in all divisions. The result of the review is that we met the goal of $500,000 by eliminating 2.5 non-teaching positions, filling a substantial number of positions at lower salary levels, and consolidating some administrative functions. We handled the faculty positions differently from the non-faculty positions by deferring to Academic Affairs to decide where faculty positions were most needed. There were 17 funded faculty positions vacant–that is positions in which a faculty member was on an academic department’s payroll last year. The Cabinet authorized 17 tenure-track faculty positions and gave the discretion to the Provost and the Deans to identify where those 17 positions should go. After careful consideration, they chose to fill the majority of the positions in the departments where the vacancies occurred and to move a smaller number of positions to departments where they deemed a critical need to exist.
The result of the review process is that we have so far been able to avoid layoffs and retrenchments, maintain the full strength of the tenure-track faculty, consolidate some administrative services, and still save $500,000. These are hard times, and we have to make sure that every dollar we spend addresses the college’s priorities. In the past several years the college has had growing budgets that allowed us to add between 5 and 8 new faculty positions each year. This year, we have a shrinking budget, and our goal was to avoid shrinking the tenured and tenure-track faculty. We succeeded at that goal, and I look forward to the time when we can begin adding faculty positions. For this year, we have to be content with maintaining tenured and tenure-track faculty numbers by reallocating some positions toward areas of growth or critical needs.
You probably know that other SUNY campuses face much different circumstances. Some have eliminated programs; we have not. Some have cut sabbaticals; we have maintained them. Some are decreasing or suspending faculty development funds; we distributed $75,000 this semester. Some SUNY campuses have increased the minimum teaching load; we have reduced ours to 21 hours and are maintaining that. Our college is in good shape despite the current downturn, and we will continue to keep the academic programs strong.
Fortunately we have a strategic plan in place to guide our spending priorities. We plan to restructure some administrative areas where we can save money while maintaining or increasing service to the campus. As we go forward with further savings measures, I will be reporting regularly to the Senate; also our two new groups, the Strategic Planning Council and the Budget Advisory Committee will solicit input from all campus constituencies on college spending priorities.
Finally, I would like you to know that Dr. Leif Hartmark, our Vice President for Finance and Administration, has announced that he intends to retire in December. Dr. Hartmark and his skilled team are the reason that our financial outlook is relatively healthy despite the state’s best efforts in the opposite direction, so we will be sorry to see him leave. We will immediately begin a search for his successor, who will assume the position early in 2011. Vice President Paul Adamo will chair the search committee, which will include representatives from the Student Association and the Committee on Administrative Review.
October 4, 2010