State budget reductions took a $5.4 million toll on Fresno State in December, and the university could lose twice that amount – $11 million – in the 2012-13 year if Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax-increase ballot measures fail to pass in November.
That troubling possibility is the latest blow to higher education and will have direct impacts at Fresno State and all California State University campuses, President John D. Welty told faculty and staff at their spring gathering Wednesday.
“Here is the dilemma,” said Welty. “We will not know if the initiative passes until November 2012. By that date it will be impossible for us to reduce our base budget by $11 million or more for the 2012-13 year.
“Our CSU Board of Trustees will have to struggle with this in the coming weeks, and we will need to have internal discussions about ways in which to approach this dilemma,” the president said.
Welty said he expects in mid-February to be able to outline an approach that Fresno State will take regarding next year’s budget.
He noted that Brown’s budget proposal for the 23-campus CSU system is the lowest figure in 15 years. It represents further evidence of California’s disinvestment in public higher education and the unwillingness of public officials to follow the wishes of the state’s residents who, according to polls, want robust public higher education and believe it deserves more state support, Welty said.
“As we ponder what’s ahead and the distinct possibility of a further reduced budget, my main concern is for our current students, our future students and all the citizens of central California that this university serves,” Welty said. “They all need a strong university with outstanding faculty and staff, 21st-century curriculum that has a breadth of offerings and course availability, a safe campus, and services to help students succeed.
“Fresno State provides for all of those,” Welty said. “But for the last three-and-a-half years, our ability to meet the needs of students and our region has been stretching and stretching – nearly to the breaking point – because our elected officials have abandoned the state’s commitment to higher education.”
Since the fall of 2008, state funding to Fresno State is down $47.6 million, he said.
Welty praised the faculty and staff for their devotion to student success during the difficult years.
“I am very proud of our university community as all of you have responded to these unprecedented changes,” he said. “We have remained focused on our students and have sacrificed a great deal to try to make the student experience as meaningful as possible.”
Also at the annual assembly, Provost William Covino discussed the work of the Academic Affairs Budget Advisory Task Force, which has been meeting since last spring to assess the base budget gap in Academic Affairs and recommend ways to close it that are consistent with our academic and university priorities. That budget gap is estimated to be $2 million.
The task force will submit its final report to Covino after reviewing comments from the University community. Then he will determine by mid-February how Academic Affairs will address this latest budget challenge.
Welty said one of the bright spots for the university is the continued fundraising success of Fresno State, which, according to a recent CSU report, is the second-most productive campus in the system, following only San Diego. To date, The Campaign for Fresno State has raised approximately $180 million with donations helping students with more than 1,400 new scholarships and every school and college with program needs.
A few Campaign highlights from recent months include:
- The Irvine Foundation is committing $800,000 to Lyles College of Engineering initiatives to improve student success. A match from the William Lyles and Family gift doubles the value to $1.6 million.
- The Jordan College received a significant gift to establish a scholarship endowment for students majoring in agriculture business or plant science.
- The College of Arts and Humanities received a $1 million contribution in December.
- A donor pledged $1.5 million for our planned sports medicine center, which has been named the Meyers Family Sports Medicine Center.
- A $300,000 gift from local entrepreneur Claude Laval will allow our faculty to expand research into the most pressing water issues facing Central California.
Welty said additional major gifts that will directly benefit academic programs will be announced in coming weeks.
He also cited other positive achievements so far this academic year:
- In October, Fresno State received its first United States patent, awarded to Dr. Sean Fulop in Linguistics for “Methods of Identification Using Voice Sound Analysis.”
- Grants and contracts income is 37 percent above the same period last year.
- A collaborative group of faculty, working with Technology Services, has made great progress in developing the Computational Science Center, which is funded by a grant from the Keck Foundation. It will be operational this spring and provide new and exciting research and learning opportunities.
- The Gates Foundation, in collaboration with the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, is providing funding and support to make Fresno State’s Biology 10 course a national model for course redesign that maintains rigor while increasing student success.
- Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and Athletics have collaborated to introduce new software called Grades First that will enhance communication between students and advisors to improve academic advising and other academic support activities such as tutoring across the campus.
To view a video of the President’s speech, click here.
To read a transcript of Dr. Welty’s speech, click here.
To view a video of the Provost’s speech, click here.
To read a transcript of Provost Covino’s speech, click here.[Gallery not found]