University budget up 3.5% to support enrollment growth; economic incubator partnershhip

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University budget up 3.5% to support enrollment growth; economic incubator partnershhip

California State University, Fresno’s $167 million budget for 2001-2002 – up about 3.5 percent, or $5 million, over last year – funds enrollment growth at Fresno State as well as a new university and business partnership to boost the development of high technology in Central California.

While specific allocations at the local level will be filed in late September, university officials are pleased with this year’s level of funding and what it means for Fresno State’s future.

Included in the budget is $650,000 to support a Central Valley Economic Incubator that would spur the development of new high technology; and a 2 percent increase in employee compensation. That pay increase is half of what the CSU requested from the state for its employees, but still much higher than most universities in the nation are receiving.

“Considering the softness of the state economy, this is a very good budget for our system,” said John D. Welty, who marked his tenth anniversary as Fresno State’s president on July 31. “It is unfortunate that it does not include the compensation increase at the four percent level which our CSU Board of Trustees requested.”

But Welty also praised the governor and state legislature for supporting the incubator partnership.

“It’s important that the state sees the need to expand and develop new business here in the San Joaquin Valley,” Welty said. “We’re delighted that the university can play an important part in this move to promote the valley and its economic growth.”

The Central Valley Economic Incubator was established in 1996 as an economic development program for Fresno County in response to the area’s lagging economy and double-digit unemployment, said Dr. Karl Longley, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Fresno State.

“Unlike other economic development strategies that are aimed at attracting and retaining existing firms in the region, CVBI is geared primarily toward creating new firms that will in turn create jobs.”

The non-profit organization is a collaborative effort among several community partners including Fresno State, the Fresno Business Council, the Entrepreneurial Resource Center, the Center for Advanced Research and Technology and the Fresno Area Workforce Investment Board.

Located within the Center for Advanced Research and Technology (CART) building, CVBI is home to several entrepreneurial firms, including environmental technology, multimedia, telecommunications, biomedical, biochemical and e-commerce ventures.

“Networking within this community of entrepreneurs provides access to invaluable resources and a support system to help Valley business ventures grow and thrive,” Longley said.

The new funding will help the university provide academic resources, faculty expertise, and distance learning programs to support business development.

Provost J. Michael Ortiz said the incubator typifies the kind of innovative thinking that has spurred the growth that the university is experiencing. Fresno State is one of eight CSU campuses receiving increases in allocated funding as a result of this rise in student enrollment. “These monies will fund additional courses to meet student demand as enrollment continues to increase,” Ortiz said.

Bernie Vinovrski, assistant vice-president for enrollment services, said applications are up 10 percent over last year with 19,500 students expected to enroll by the time classes begin Aug. 27. Vinovrski said CSU’s ability to keep student fees from increasing is proving to be very attractive to students and parents.

“Any budget that keeps basic fees to zero or little growth is excellent news for the public in planning for a post secondary education.” Vinovrski said.

The budget includes funding for the CSU’s move to year-round operation in 2002. Fresno State, which employed a year-round schedule in the Kremen School of Education and Human Development this summer, will implement the year-round schedule next year univeristy-wide.

“If you can base predictions on what has happened in the Kremen School on our campus, and the results experienced by the other CSUs that converted this summer (2001), we anticipate a large number of students will be attending, and this should accelerate their time-to-degree,” Ortiz said.

At the CSU level, two allocations that affect Fresno State are:

— $17.5 million for the Governor’s Teacher Fellowship Program, which provides $20,000 fellowships for individuals to attend teacher preparation programs and then teach in under performing schools after attaining their teaching credentials.

— $6 million for the Governor’s Education Technology Professional Development Program. The program will train teachers in the use of technology in the classroom and will support curriculum, which focuses on improving the quality of teacher instruction and the level of student learning.

Enrollment in the Kremen School of Education and Human Development has increased from 1,226 majors in 1997-98 to 1,445 in 2000-01. There were 3,327 declared majors in Education in 1997 and there were 3,846 in 2000 – an increase of 519 – to meet the need for credentialed teachers in the Valley and state.

Ortiz said this is a direct result of CSU teacher preparation initiatives funded by the state.