October 21, 2008 | News from the Chancellor
The University is closely monitoring its financial situation in response to still-unfolding economic events affecting international, national, state, and local markets. To ensure that the CUNY community is informed of changes to the University’s budgets and budgetary process, I will send regular communications as new information from the state and city becomes available.
Most recently, Governor Paterson called for a special session of the legislature November 18 in order to address a $1.2 billion shortfall in the state budget. This is the second time this fiscal year that the governor has reopened the budget. In August, reductions to CUNY’s senior colleges totaled $50.6 million, as detailed in my previous e-News. This amount was principally handled through prudent planning, largely over the past year, based on our anticipation of a softer economy. The governor has also announced that he will release his executive budget on December 16, about a month earlier than usual.
On the city side, city agencies were asked by Mayor Bloomberg to submit budget reduction proposals equal to 2.5% of the city budget in fiscal year 2009 and 5% in fiscal year 2010. For CUNY, the proposed reductions amount to $5.8 million in the current year and $9.5 million in fiscal year 2010, subject to the review and approval of the New York City Council.
The University’s first priority in navigating this fiscal situation is the maintenance of our core academic mission and the protection of our services to students. We are continuing to hire full-time faculty for replacement purposes and for new positions already provided for in each college’s financial plan, as well as staff who provide direct services to students, such as academic advisors and mental health counselors. The pause in the processing of most other personnel actions that we instituted in August continues, as do restrictions on other than personal services (OTPS). We have been in constant communication with Governor Paterson, Mayor Bloomberg, their top aides, and legislative leaders as city and state revenue projections change, making them aware of the impact of reductions on the University.
Since the first implementation of the CUNY Compact in 2006, the University has committed itself to a wide range of productivity and efficiency measures, including the careful use of reserves set aside in anticipation of potential fiscal difficulties. This judicious management has enabled us to minimize the effect of state and city budget reductions. CUNY’s strong position in the higher education marketplace continues a multi-year trend that has coincided with our series of reforms at the University. Fall 2008 enrollment is at its highest level since 1975, with 242,000 students. CUNY adult and continuing education programs recently posted their highest-ever enrollment of more than 270,000 students. Students and their families clearly appreciate the value of a CUNY education in expanding their options.
Going forward, the University will continue to promote the Compact model of financing, a leveraging approach that includes public investment, private philanthropy, and a rational tuition policy. I have also established three working groups to carefully study the University’s financial future. The first group is analyzing our core expenses, the second is exploring CUNY bylaws and policies, and the third is investigating the entrepreneurial use of the University’s physical assets. The next Board of Trustees meeting has been moved to December 8 so that we can more fully assess the results of the November 18 special legislative session.
The University has made enormous strides over the last several years. In a changing economy that necessitates career retraining and workforce adjustments, we anticipate an even greater interest in CUNY and its programs, reinforcing the need for robust investment. We will continue to communicate the important work of the University to state and city officials as the economic situation develops. As we move through the next cycle of executive and legislative decisions, we are confident that the University will maintain its stability, focusing on its core academic values. I look forward to working with CUNY’s dedicated presidents, faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends.
Thank you for your support.