Board of Trustees Committee talks budget, Achievement Compact

The Portland State Board of Trustees’ Academic and Student Affairs Committee convened May 8 to address the university budget, healthcare plan and PSU’s future.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sona Andrews led the meeting, which included President Wim Wiewel and others.

Wiewel discussed budgeting plans in light of the Oregon Supreme Court’s decision to partially overturn key elements of 2013’s Public Employee Retirement System. The decision will take funding away from government agencies, including public universities.

“For the 2017–19 biennium, the hit will be substantial,” Wiewel said. “My guess is $6 million per year. That’s $12 million in the biennium, is what it will cost us. To put it in terms we can understand, that’s a 4 percent tuition increase.”

Wiewel added that a tuition increase is not necessarily what will happen.

The committee members addressed PSU’s new system of handling Student Affairs budgeting
as it closes its first year of implementation.

“We are now in our first year of Performance-Based Budgeting,” Andrews said. “Performance-Based Budgeting is just based on the [Education and General Fund]. It does not include research dollars or fees.”

Andrews continued, “Performance-Based Budgeting is a step away from what we had been doing with Incremental-Based Budgeting. This performance-based budgeting allows us to actually look at things like student demand and performance needs.”

The committee members discussed the results of the 2015–16 OUS Achievement Compact, an assessment which measures student and employer satisfaction with different facets of their education at PSU. It also measures percentages of graduation rates by ethnicity. The members also discussed disparities between white, Latino and African American students, noting a low level of university students who are African American men.

“It is a national trend,” said John Fraire, a non-voting ex-oficio member of the committee.
“Looking at it, I come from a university that was very successful in this, so I’m hoping some of the same things we did there will be effective here,” Fraire continued.

Student trustee and committee member Maria Gonzales-Prats said, “Something that surprises me is that we heard so much from the African American population when we were going through police force deputization, so I had the impression we had larger involvement.”

The Achievement Compact may be coming to an end this year, according to committee members, as changing means of evaluating data have led to inconsistencies.

“Universities endorsed the legislation to eliminate the Achievement Compacts…This might be the last year we have to do them,” Andrews said.

The committee members discussed the possible creation of a new economics degree: Quantitative Economics. The major would focus on preparing students to pursue Economics PhDs, which can be more math-intensive than some economics majors might expect.

Finally, the committee discussed the possibility of partnering with OHSU to create a medical school. The initiative has been in the planning stages since 2011. Pending approval from the Council on Education for Public Health, PSU will issue a self-study draft in late 2015 and begin looking for a dean in 2016.