At a campus community budget meeting concerning the administration’s plan to cope with the economic crisis Wednesday, Jan. 21, President Wim Wiewel announced a minimum tuition increase of 3.6 percent for fall term 2009.
At a campus community budget meeting concerning the administration’s plan to cope with the economic crisis Wednesday, Jan. 21, President Wim Wiewel announced a minimum tuition increase of 3.6 percent for fall term 2009. The increase could be significantly higher, depending on the actual cuts to the budget.
“I have a commitment to retaining quality as much as possible. To talk about affordability at all is pointless, if you can get in cheap but the school is terrible, what is the point?” Wiewel said.
Wiewel presented the plan alongside Lindsay Desrochers, vice president for finance and administration, and Roy Koch, vice president for academic affairs.
Wiewel opened a rather grim discussion with a somber smile, joking, “With the turn out you’d think we were giving out money today!” However, his demeanor quickly changed, resembling something of President Barack Obama’s serious yet optimistic tone during the inaugural address.
“We are facing unprecedented challenges. Oregon is at 9 percent unemployment,” Wiewel said.
The staff and faculty were well aware of the challenges PSU faces, and no one was surprised to hear that the Oregon state legislature has predicted 5 percent to 25 percent cut for the Oregon University System budget for the next two years.
OUS receives funding from the state, and then distributes it accordingly between the seven universities. As Wiewel explained, all the schools will be affected by the budget cuts. However, PSU has the most students yet lags behind Oregon State and University of Oregon in private endowments.
The cuts also means that departments and organizations will have to cut costs, temporarily stop hiring new employees and even reduce services. According to Desrochers, state-funding accounts for one third of PSU’s overall budget—tuition and other sources, including endowments and grants, make up the remainder of the budget.
Desrochers did have some good news, despite the impending cuts. “We’ve reached record enrollment, we’ve had salary improvements and an increase in capital investments,” she said.
“But there is a serious erosion that has occurred in the U.S. economy,” she said.
Desrochers went on to explain the new economic stimulus package, totaling nearly $1 trillion, which is expected to get approval in mid-February. According to Desrochers, the package is understood to focus on job creation though state priorities, student financial aid and the preservation of crucial educational services.
Derochers also reported that the experts do not foresee economic recovery until the last half of 2010, making the biennium budget for 2009-11 particularly difficult to plan.
“They [the state legislature] have predicted a $2.2 billion shortfall in state resources by 2011,” she said, focusing in on Oregon’s economic quandary.
“We need the entire community to be involved, including administrative leaders, academic leaders, student group leaders and union leaders, we all need to reduce spending,” Desrochers said. “We want this to be a very transparent process.”
Koch laid out the exact plan on how the administration would determine where and when to cut services.
“We are very serious about making sure that all our activities are in line with the five guiding themes and the eight principles we’ve laid out,” Koch said, in reference to the principles and themes developed specifically to help determine, in a fair and transparent manner, where funds should be reduced.
Koch and Wiewel both stressed that they will limit across the board reductions, and instead set guidelines according to the principles and then allow managers to determine where to make cuts in their own departments and organizations.
“It’s hard to strike exactly the right tone at this time. This is more serious, more grave and it will have more impacts,” Wiewel said. “I really believe that we will get through this, we will create partnerships, work with businesses and with OHSU, and not be tied up with getting more money.”