Budget Central: Responses By Area

We are appreciative of all the suggestions that have been provided by the staff, faculty, students and the campus community, to assist us in resolving our budget crisis. We invite your continued participation in this process. If you have not yet submitted your ideas, or if you would like to submit additional ideas, you can still submit suggestions online and review suggestions contributed by other members of the Fresno State community at Budget Central. We also encourage you to return to this page as we continue to review your suggestions.

Please select one of the following to jump to a specific area:

Please note: Items in blue are responses.

Academic Areas

To facilitate the consultative process in evaluating the Suggestion Box proposals, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. William Covino, has called for the creation of an Academic Affairs Budget Advisory Task Force to be co-chaired by Dennis Nef and Michael Caldwell, to review and consider all Suggestion Box entries.

The Task Force will deliberate throughout this summer, and give further attention to those suggestions that have the potential for substantial positive results, including those suggestions that propose consolidation and reorganization to meet budget reduction goals. In addition, the Task Force is charged with recommending sustainable approaches to closing the estimated base budget gap between the University Level A allocation to Academic Affairs and the recurring costs of operating Academic Affairs units, while maintaining enrollment targets and achieving campus strategic priorities.

Periodic updates of the Academic Affairs Budget Advisory Task Force progress will be posted on Budget Central over the coming months.

Services to Students

  • Add a surcharge for repeating a class. Students can take the same class multiple times and drop or fail to complete.

The CSU recently enacted a new policy governing the maximum number of course repeats. It is designed to address the issue raised in your suggestion. Individual campuses have the option of applying administrative fees for dropping and adding. The university has done some analysis of excessive dropping of classes and it does not appear to be a widespread practice at Fresno State.

  • Do not re-admit academically disqualified freshmen. Re-admit after they have successfully completed lower division GE requirements at a community college.
  • Require non-freshman students who are academically disqualified to reapply for admission after a 6-month leave from the university. These students could take courses through Open University. Disqualified students could be re-admitted after achieving a satisfactory grade point average.

We agree with your suggestions. For the past two years, applicants seeking readmission to the university, who are in disqualified status, are required to demonstrate good grades for at least one semester at a community college or through Open University prior to readmission.

  • Students who do not meet basic standards in Math and English should not be admitted. They can go to Community College and come here when they are academically prepared.

The CSU specifies specific academic preparation and grade point average for admission. Proficiency in English and Math is determined by test results in the ELM or EPT or via SAT’s. A new CSU initiative called Early Start will be implemented in fall 2012. This will require commencing English/Math proficiency in senior year of high school or summer school prior to freshman year. This will help address your suggestion.

  • Students who do not meet basic standards in Math and English should not be admitted. They can go to community college and come here when they are academically prepared.

The CSU specifies specific academic preparation and grade point average for admission. Proficiency in English and Math is determined by test results on the ELM, EPT or via SAT. A new CSU initiative called Early Start will be implemented in fall 2012. This will require commencing English/Math proficiency in senior year of high school or summer school prior to freshman year. This will help address your suggestion.

  • Student employment, including student assistants, paid internships and graduate assistants should be an essential priority.

Implementation would require significant consideration to work that is covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Strict use of students, volunteers and interns to perform bargaining unit work would constitute “contracting out.” The use of large number of interns or volunteers would have a detrimental impact on relationships with collective bargaining units.

Work would have to be outside areas that are covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Using student interns or volunteers for management (MPP) positions would be impractical.

Infrastructure Savings

  • Install cigarette butt containers on campus, to reduce the time required by gardeners to pick up littered cigarettes.

Smoking on campus is a problem and causes waste that requires additional maintenance. We try to ensure that cigarette receptacles remain in the areas designated for smoking. Many individuals ignore the policy and smoke in non-designated areas. We will continue to review placement of the receptacles, because we agree that these aid in keeping our campus clean.

  • Cut excessive watering.

Water is a precious resource and we try to do our part in conserving this resource. If we over water our grounds, it is not done intentionally. The central irrigation system currently in place is years old and operates on a DOS system. We have a request to replace this system as part of our Central Plant Project, but anticipate that we are years from implementation. To mitigate this issue in the short term, we try to manually manage the areas that are prone to over water and encourage/request the campus community contact us at 278-2373 when they see this issue.

We are exploring a number of water saving technologies, especially in irrigation which constitutes our largest usage of water. We are also installing “purple pipe” on all new irrigation pipe installations to facilitate the future use of reclaimed water for irrigation.

  • *Turn off interior lights, make better use of programmable lights, and shut off heating/cooling in buildings when they close for the evenings.

HVAC and light usage is limited when buildings are empty, with some variances for night staff who work in those facilities. Some buildings are programmed to turn on/off during non-work hours and we do achieve higher temperature swings during these times.

Programmable lights in the library use a state of the art lighting system that meets Title 24 and provide an additional 15% in energy savings. We will look at what can be done to better utilize zone lighting for service employees.

  • Stop all cosmetic work done on buildings, for example is it necessary to “spruce up” UBC building.

The University Center building project was funded using non-state money that was tied to the completion of the library. We will continue to be conscious with these projects in the future.

  • Stop building structures that we do not need.

Capital projects are funded from different sources than funds for operation of the university.

  • No annuals should be planted on campus and all current landscaping should be limited to drought tolerant perennials or nothing at all.

We are already looking at this option, with consideration as to cost savings, how this would affect campus appearance, and what maintenance issues would be involved. Over the last five years, we have been working to reduce color annuals and are already planting 30% less annual color today. We do use perennials throughout the campus, which have their own set of issues in the valley – such as our nut sedge problem that invades perennials and is difficult to control. We will continue to explore this path by continuing to reduce the use of annuals again this year.

  • Set comfortable heating and cooling temperatures to obtain better control and save energy, money and greenhouse gas savings.

What is considered a comfortable temperature setting is very subjective to the individual. Facilities Management strives to maintain a set standard; however, we are utilizing building controls and HVAC equipment that is excess of 50 years old, which in some cases presents a challenge. Our Central Plant is currently operating at capacity and the Energy Management System is also very outdated. We continually strive to implement better controls, but with aged equipment, pending reductions, retirements, and limited staff capacity, it will be a challenge to dramatically improve existing conditions.

Program Savings

  • Combine all wellness categories into one: Staff Wellness, Student Wellness and Recreation Center fitness should all be handled at the Recreation Center as one program.

Funding for the Student Recreation Center comes from the student annual fee and is barely enough to maintain current expenses. The Wellness and Health Promotion Service Programs in the Student Health Center has been funded by external grants and the Health Center fee which are dedicated to health services. These include Wellness activities. The Staff Wellness Program is funded through the general fund under the auspices of Human Resources. They already collaborate on Wellness activities on many occasions. Furthermore, Wellness provides psychological counseling by trained providers. Shifting programs to the Recreation Center would merely shift costs.

  • Eliminate Central Valley Heritage Institute and Women’s Resource Center. These programs are not core to serving all our students.

Fresno State has been a leader in embracing and fostering diversity. The cost to operating under the existing structure is modest. We will, however, investigate whether this office can be combined with another existing office that can absorb the additional capacity.

  • Reduce and restrict the use of external consultants.

Consultants are thoroughly vetted before commitments are made. In addition, existing expenditure freeze requirements remain in place. Initiatives such as those implemented with C3 and Lean University lead to immediate and future savings, and trained staff that can undertake future improvement initiatives independently.

  • Human Resources and Wellness should be able to handle morale problems in the departments. Discontinue the use of outside Human Resources consultants.

Occasions when the campus hires outside consultants is limited. The presence of the wellness program on campus offers convenience and easy accessibility. It has proven to be more economical and reasonable to have on-staff counselors who can also help manage training and other wellness services.

  • Outsource Workers Compensation administration to a third-party entity.

This suggestion would not reduce costs. Fresno State has substantially reduced its workers comp claims due to the establishment of integrated on-campus programs that are focused on reducing risk. Through the California State University Risk Management Authority (CSURMA), Fresno State does use third-party vendors to manage claims and reduce costs. This is working very effectively.

  • University Outreach sponsors numerous “out of area” receptions. This is very costly. We are turning away students right now, so why are we spending a lot of money to recruit students when attracting students to the university does not seem to be an issue right now.

Approximately 1,200 students currently live in Residence Halls. The university feels strongly that Residence Life contributes significantly to the student’s education/personal development. In order to fill up the residence halls, University Outreach Services needs to cultivate prospects outside our primary service area. Off-campus receptions, known as yield events, are instrumental in enrolling a greater number of first-time freshmen and insure that the Residence Halls are near 100% capacity. The more students we enroll helps the university be in a position to receive enrollment growth money from the Chancellor’s Office. In fact, during the past five years we have surpassed Cal Poly, SLO and Cal Poly, Pomona in enrollment and budget support.

Athletic Savings

These suggestions are currently being reviewed. Responses will be posted on Budget Central over the coming months.

Advancement Savings

These suggestions are currently being reviewed. Responses will be posted on Budget Central over the coming months.

Overall Campus Savings

Please note that suggestions that relate to issues covered by a collective bargaining agreement (e.g. employee salary, evaluation process, classification, etc.) are subject to negotiation.

The following response applies to all suggestions that involve a work schedule modification or furloughs.

Alternate work schedules can be an effective tool for the university if it’s managed appropriately. The unit manager is responsible for assuring there is a valid business need for a modified schedule. In general, a majority of staff work a standard schedule.

Time base reductions are currently available and continue to be an option if layoffs become necessary.

Furthermore, implementing a unilateral modified work schedule or furloughs is a collective bargaining agreement issue and subject to negotiations between the Chancellor’s Office and labor unions.

  • Invest in a better sound system at the Save Mart Center. We would no longer have to rent “upgraded” equipment for events such as graduation and we could rent this system for use at non-university events.

This equipment is only needed for commencement and not for other events held at SMC and SRC and as such would not be a feasible investment for the Association. Also, there would be increased costs for repair and replacement if we purchased instead of renting.

  • Total shutdown of campus the week after graduation or close campus for the month of July.

Our campus is used seven days a week by many throughout the year. Summer uses such as testing, special education programs, community events, summer camps, summer school, etc. require maintenance. Summer weather in the Central Valley poses a threat to our buildings if the campus is completely shut down. Most of our buildings would suffer (interior) damage if not kept at a maximum of 85-90 degrees.

We do believe that concentrating these uses to specific core buildings during the summer could save some money by not having to cool them as normal and also limit the need for custodial service. This is being investigated.

  • Eliminate car allowances.

Car allowances are authorized and approved by the Chancellor’s Office.

  • *Outsource campus copying/printing to a single source. A commercial vendor could pay to have a store on campus. This would eliminate having to purchase paper, ink and maintenance by individual departments.

Presently, we have a pay-for-print solution on campus that students are using for printing and copying. It is not certain that a private vendor would be able provide this service at a lower cost than the current model. We would also have to look at impact on productivity.

  • Eliminate all salary increases, including equity increases for MPP. We have already had several this year. We have a hiring freeze; part of that should incorporate equity increases.

It is agreed that employees should not work out of class. However, on occasion, it does occur to meet immediate needs and any subsequent reclassification may be required under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. Increases in MPP salaries for increased work and responsibilities are judgment calls by the supervising MPP and Vice President.

  • Send telephone bills via e-mail.

Moving towards an electronic delivery method for billing involves upgrading our current Pinnacle application and server to newer version. This involves some expense in either upgrading our existing hardware or going to a managed service with the vendor (Paetec) along with getting the training necessary to migrate our current process to an electronic one.

Currently, there is some thought to eliminating the maintenance expense associated with our Pinnacle application and rethinking our approach to monthly billing. Doing this could potentially result in savings of approximately $30,000 annually.

  • Record training sessions and informational meetings (i.e. PeopleSoft), to improve access to existing and new staff.

We agree this can and should be done. Recorded training sessions are already done and available by the CSU and other campus programs (e.g. CSU Accessible Technology Initiative, Fresno State jobs application, safety training, and the new Avaya phone system). Special consideration/permission should be given when the trainer is not a Fresno State employee (copyright).

  • *Eliminate all bottled water.

General fund monies are not used to pay for water service.

  • *Eliminate all cell phones.

Cell phones provide a valuable way for employees to work efficiently and productively. Cell phone stipends are only provided for university business reasons and require Vice President approval.

  • Eliminate all faculty and administrative retreats and freeze all travel.

Retreats and travel provide benefits that advance the educational mission of the university. Existing travel freeze guidelines help control these expenses.

  • Utilize the skills of the HR Analyst/Generalist and a single subject matter expert from the department when conducting screening for recruitments for staff and middle management. Have the HR analyst provide all the screening and identify the best qualified candidates and rank them. There is a potential to eliminate a search committee all together in some cases. This will save up to 12 hours of search committee members’ time.

A single subject area expert does not provide sufficient objectivity when recruiting for these positions.

  • We spend over 1 million dollars a year in travel, even after a “reduction.” We should encourage more use of telecommunication with video and/or audio feeds.

The campus has current travel freeze guidelines in place and supervisors should be encouraging employees to take advantage of online training, video or teleconference opportunities. Furthermore, there are many travel expenses reimbursed from other entities back to Fresno State.

  • Eliminate phone extensions not in use.

The cost of the phone is about $177 annually, which includes the largest device we offer along with reliable, unlimited local and long-distance calling.

If instructors are finding that their use of the Avaya phones is limited, we suggest eliminating the phone and going to a shared voicemail account as a way to eliminate the device charge. If they need to return a call they could make use of a centralized office phone dedicated for faculty use.

Unused phones should be removed and disconnected in all areas of the campus. Disconnecting a phone is relatively easy and can be accomplished by opening a work order and requesting that an extension be disconnected and the device picked up.

  • Re-evaluate Zimbra – very unstable system. Campus productivity has been impacted.

The suggestion that we allow users to use Outlook and/or Mac Mail is not viable as a means of reducing our budget for collaboration technology and support. One of the key reasons we migrated to web-based e-mail is the cost savings associated with not having to install, maintain and support e-mail clients on end-user computers.

An analysis would be necessary to determine that the short term investments of resources and the impact to users of migrating to another new system are justified by the potential savings.

  • Newly hired employees working less than a full fiscal year (i.e. 10/12 or 11/12) should only be eligible for a pro rata share of vacation and sick time.

Prorated vacation and sick time is a collective bargaining agreement issue and subject to negotiations between the Chancellor’s Office and labor unions.

Suggestions for Revenue Generation

  • Replace the Bulldog screensaver on our Avaya phones, with paid advertising from community vendors, or others interested in marketing their product at Fresno State.

Changing the screen saver image is not a trivial task. Depending on the amount of revenue anticipated, selling the screen saver space on a phone may not be worth the effort.

  • Tier tuition increases. Tuition should remain the same as your Freshman/1st year rate.

A number of private and public institutions are considering tiered tuition by class standing and/or major. Tuition fees are set by the CSU Board of Trustees and Fresno State must abide by this policy.

  • Raise out-of-state tuition for both athletic and academic scholarships and those who wish to attend the university, regardless of their justification or qualification.

Fresno State has an enrollment of over 20,000 students and only 2.5% are non-residents. All non-resident student athletes pay out-of-state tuition fees. California is among the strictest states to establish residency to avoid paying out-of-state tuition fees. Additionally, tuition fees are set by the CSU Board of Trustees and Fresno State must abide by this policy.

  • Close the university restaurant, if it is losing money or only makes a modest amount of revenue.

The Association Board of Directors is currently evaluating the fiscal impacts of all Association operations and they are evaluating the campus life impacts if the university restaurant were to be closed. The university restaurant has been a service provided to the campus community and given uncertain daily sales, very difficult to manage food and labor costs like a restaurant off campus.

Suggestions to Improve Office Efficiencies or Improve Services

  • Implement budget process planning tool/program that could be used to test various budget scenarios.

A new online process to prepare budget solutions would be costly. A functioning spreadsheet template maybe valid but would not be online or combine multiple budgets across units.

  • Establish a procedure and policy that all incoming students produce evidence of their legal status in the U.S., admitting only legal citizens and foreign students with the appropriate documentation.

Fresno State does not admit illegal aliens. On October 12, 2001, Governor Gray Davis signed Assembly Bill 540 into law. This law allows undocumented students who meet specific criteria to pay in-state tuition fees at California public colleges and universities. To qualify, a student must have attended a California High School for 3 or more years. Additionally, these students must have graduated from a California High School or attained a GED and have signed affidavit as required by individual institutions, stating that you will apply for legal residency as soon as possible.

  • Promote from within; eliminate handshake deals; reward performance instead of seniority.

The university follows a formal recruitment process and priority is given to internal candidates within certain collective bargaining agreements and classifications.

  • Massive cuts at Long Beach, Chancellor’s Office. Keep only the Chancellor and lawyers for the inevitable lawsuits.

The CSU Chancellor’s Office is taking a larger percent of cuts when compared to the campuses. Many functions of the Chancellor’s Office are required by law and others provide cost saving system-wide synergies.

  • Admit only students that are academically qualified. Stick to the printed admissions and guidelines for the CSU system and stop making exceptions.

This is a very good suggestion and the university has drastically reduced the number of “exception admits” to less than 1% of all university admits.

  • Early retirement incentives.

Early retirement incentives are decisions made at the system-wide or state level.

  • Target staff who have sub-par performance and help them hone their skills to become better workers through on-the-job training or replace them.

Employees receive an annual performance review to provide feedback about performance. A portion of the review allows the opportunity to identify a plan, when applicable, that will help address noted performance issues.

  • Combine administration from smaller campuses and put them under a few larger campuses. For example: Fresno State could be central for Chico, Sacramento State, Bakersfield and Stanislaus.

The CSU is looking at various multi-campus synergy initiatives.

  • Build new and improved dorms. Redoing the dorms could accommodate more students and bring in much needed money for the university.

The Association does not have the ability to incur any more debt given current obligations. Campus Pointe was an alternative to provide more updated housing for students, faculty and staff at no cost to the Association.

  • Eliminate the reserved parking stalls in lot V under the solar panels. Change them to green parking.

Denoting the spaces as yellow or green limits future parking inventory management options due to collective bargaining agreements and financing options on new construction.

  • Don’t have major events at the Save Mart Center on a class day.

The guiding principle and mission for all our auxiliary operating units is to support the academic mission of the university and to serve our students. We are mindful of the potential conflicts and do our best to keep weekday events to a minimum and try to avoid weekday evening events during the academic semesters. Our standard practice for traffic/parking management is for the Save Mart Center staff to work with University Police and local law enforcement agencies on an approved traffic control plan for every event. Support is also provided to students, faculty, and staff by allowing daily campus parking in the Save Mart Center lots on non-event days to accommodate the general parking needs of the university.

  • The Foundation’s Benefit Burden is Too High

Currently, the average benefit burden rate for Foundation employees is 40%. However effective July 1, 2011, the Foundation Board has approved a maximum employer contribution rate for health benefits that will cover the employee only. This action should reduce this rate going forward for sponsored programs.

  • Create a system of categories for university bulletin e-mails indicated by subject line so that everyone will know if it pertains to them.

We agree that information overload is a problem. An option to limit the number of bulletin board messages you receive a day is currently available. You can sign up to receive only one bulletin board message a day that aggregates all messages sent that day.

Currently we are using a listserv and it does not allow us to manipulate any submissions. This is a good idea to consider in the future as we look into a new bulletin board system.