Members of the SUNY New Paltz community gathered on Friday, Oct. 19, for a forum discussion of the College’s core operating budget.
The forum was hosted by President Donald P. Christian and Vice President for Administration & Finance Michele Halstead. President Christian opened with some contextual information about budget processes at the statewide level, before ceding the floor to Halstead for a more in-depth presentation about the current budget situation at New Paltz.
Halstead began by outlining progress made in reducing the 2017-18 budget shortfall from a projected $1.8 million to less than $500,000, which was achieved thanks in large part to a campus-wide effort to reduce spending.
The success did not fully align revenues and expenses, however, and for budget year 2018-19 the College faces a projected deficit of more than $5 million. The gap is due to a number of factors, including flat direct state support for SUNY campuses, which has not increased since 2012; a years-long trend of declining graduate enrollments (which are showing signs of rebounding in the most recent recruitment data); and a variety of increased expenses in areas including facilities maintenance for new buildings, new and unfunded compliance mandates, a steadily increasing minimum wage for student workers and negotiated salary increases for employees.
Halstead outlined a plan by which SUNY New Paltz will make judicious use of campus reserves to balance the current year budget, while also extending and intensifying efforts to strike a balance in both the immediate and long terms.
Goals for revenue increases include the continued development of new academic programs; building on the positive momentum in recent graduate recruitment trends; and setting new targets for increasing undergraduate enrollment.
The College will continue limiting expenditures by working through the Office of Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion to establish “strategic recruiting” processes when faculty and staff positions are vacated, and by continuing to limit travel related to employees’ professional activity and development, among other methods.
Following the presentation, attendees were invited to pose questions and offer suggestions. Commenters’ ideas touched on promoting conscientious energy use by individuals on campus, potential coordinated advocacy efforts, and partnership with other SUNY campuses and the SUNY central administration.
Community members who were unable to attend the Oct. 19 budget forum may view Halstead’s PowerPoint presentation by logging onto my.newpaltz.edu and finding it via the “Budget Information Center” link.