College prioritizes quality and access in addressing $6.3 M budget cut

Academic programs preserved; workforce trimmed

NEW PALTZ – The State University of New York at New Paltz has developed a budget plan for 2011-12 in the face of an estimated $6.3M cut in state funding that will adjust the College’s economy while preserving academic programs and student support services and protecting current full-time employees, Interim President Donald Christian announced to the campus community in an e-mail communication today.

The College will reduce the number of adjunct faculty next year, and plans further workforce reduction of about 45 positions (beyond adjuncts and other contingent employees) through retirements and resignations.

“We are able to meet the challenges of the budget reductions while protecting academic programs and support services,” Christian said. “The highest considerations throughout our planning process have been to preserve access and the quality of the academic and co-curricular experience of our students. This includes providing the courses students need in the sequence that they need them to achieve their academic goals and graduate in a timely manner.”

The plan emphasizes approaches such as attrition, consolidation and reorganization, more-effective use of all-funds budgeting, and reduced allocations for energy and non-personnel expenses. These will preserve the quality of the student educational experience and maintain the excellent reputation New Paltz has garnered in recent years as one of the top liberal arts-based comprehensive colleges in the Northeast. With 87% of its state operating budget in personnel, the College must reduce its workforce, and this reduction has been achieved with no involuntary loss of full-time employees due to budget considerations.

“The State University of New York at New Paltz is and will continue to be an outstanding institution comprising dedicated, talented, creative, and engaged faculty, staff, and students,” Christian said. “We have an excellent reputation as a successful institution. Nowhere is this more evident than in the way this community came together to manage our fiscal challenges. The plan we have adopted is a product of a process of thoughtful discussion and meaningful input from all segments of the campus community and illustrates our collective resolve to be one of the finest public liberal arts-based comprehensive colleges in the nation.”

The most regrettable consequences of the plan are reduced employment of adjunct faculty and further workforce reductions in the coming years, according to Christian. The plan calls for a $903,000 or 29% decrease in the College’s part-time personnel budget, to be achieved over the course of the next academic year. Because the College’s primary goal is to maintain availability of seats in courses for students, the College cannot specify the number of adjuncts that will be affected because adjunct hiring continues until the day that classes begin. Additionally, adjuncts teach different numbers of courses depending on student and departmental needs.

This change in turn will require shifting a larger proportion of teaching responsibilities to full-time faculty through a number of strategies. In some schools and departments, faculty may teach an extra course to make up for the reduced availability of part-time instructors; in some instances, students may see modest increases in class size. Currently, approximately 70% of New Paltz classes are taught by full-time faculty.

Christian said that increased class sizes are being considered cautiously, and with attention to helping faculty develop approaches to create “small-class experiences” with larger enrollments. Although it is generally perceived that smaller classes are more desirable than larger ones, New Paltz has considerable margin for adjusting class size that will still provide high-quality classroom experiences, according to L. David Eaton, vice president for enrollment management. Currently, 75% of New Paltz classes enroll fewer than 30 students, and 38% enroll under 20 students. Only 2% of New Paltz courses enroll more than 50 students, a much smaller fraction than some of the colleges whose success we aspire to emulate.

Likewise, staffing has been reduced in student and academic support services and business units through attrition and resignation. New Paltz has managed those reductions by reorganizing and combining functions and using technology to achieve greater efficiencies.

“We believe that we can deliver the same quality and convenience of service, and will work with students in response to their feedback to see that the College makes the necessary adjustments required to do so,” Christian said.

“Achieving the plan will demand considerable discipline and change in how we do our work, and the outcome of keeping all programs means that we must find ways to economize in how we offer them,” Christian said. “But the plan supports our fiscal health and provides a pathway for continued access to our high quality educational offerings,” Christian said.

A more detailed budget plan is available at