FY04 Budget Recommendation

MEMO TO:     Campus Budget Committee
FROM:            Donald P. Wharton, President
DATE:             March 25, 2003
SUBJECT:       Meeting our Budget Challenges

Budget challenges are nothing new at Plymouth. Today’s challenge has its genesis in the state’s fiscal shortfall as reflected in the governor’s proposed budget. That budget would set our state appropriation for next year and the year after at 95 percent and 98 percent of the current year’s amount. USNH, in its biennial budget request, asked for a 6.4 percent increase for next year and an additional 6.2 percent increase for the following year. The difference between the requested appropriation for next year and the amount proposed in the governor’s budget is 11 percent, or a $1.2 million reduction for PSU.

As I said in my March Report to the Faculty, Plymouth State, in responding to our situation, will have to proceed along two tracks. The first is advocacy for the original USNH trustee budget request. The second is contingency planning for a budget different than what we requested. In this instance the core values of program quality, recruitment and retention of quality students, faculty/staff, student opportunities, and continuation of outreach partnerships and initiatives must be preserved.

In adjusting the budget, it is important that we don’t reduce expectations of ourselves or reduce our commitment to mission. It is also important that we don’t presume that we can fulfill our mission only in the way we have been doing it thus far. Given our budget situation now, it will be necessary to create new efficiencies, raise new revenues, and invest in new ventures even as we reduce expenditures in some areas. Some operational and organizational changes will be necessary. Some things will have to change so that other things may stay the same.

We need to look at expenditures that are related to one another, and together constitute structural change, not just marginal adjustments. I would ask that you support the following critical changes that must take place so that we can continue our efforts to provide a quality education to our students and have a balanced budget. More specifically, I believe it is necessary for us to make substantive changes including the following:

  1. A competitive salary structure must be maintained, and we must give special attention to the recruitment and retention of quality faculty and staff.  To do so, we must plan for at least a 3 percent increase in each of the two years of the upcoming biennium. Our goal is to improve our standings with our comparator institutions.
  2. Revenue Enhancements
  • Consideration must be given to increasing the number of out-of-state students without lowering standards for fall 2004.
  • Tuition rates must be considered a part of the budget solution with consideration given to a flat dollar increase common to both in- and out-of-state students.
  • We must make a concerted effort to raise additional revenue through expanded offerings in the evening and in Summer and Winterim sessions.  New graduate degrees and certification programs should be developed and offered where there is a greater market demand. Summer conferencing program schedules and revenues are being expanded to offer greater accessibility to the community. The Graduate Continuing Education Evening Division has been charged with starting the evening degree-seeking program in fall ’03 with full implementation by fall ‘04.
  1. Reduce part-time faculty expenditures. Beginning in spring ’04 budgets will be established for each department, and the department will be responsible for making the curricular decisions to stay within that budget.
  2. Reduce the number of required courses.
  3. Raise the average class size across the board, and particularly increase enrollments at the upper division level. Last fall (’02) the average class size actually went down in size from the previous year.
  4. Consolidate academic departments and centralize some services where expense reductions can be made.
  5. Reduce expenditures in deferred maintenance, operating expenses, copying and printing.
  6. Slow the growth of the cost of utilities through new conservation goals and efforts.
  7. Centralize some business services where expense reductions can be made.
  8. Centralize some academic support services where expense reductions can be made.
  9. Align student life programs with the needs of students from a recruiting and retention perspective.
  10. Examine the growth of technology costs carefully to assure it supports continued efforts in the utilization of technology in teaching, internal and external communication needs, and improved consumer practices.
  11. Continue moving athletic funding toward the model currently used Keene State with respect to the balance between operating budgets and student fees.

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