PSU’s 2011-12 budget plan unveiled at campus forums

The 2011–12 Portland State budget plan was unveiled at two campus forums held in the Smith Memorial Student Union on May 11.

The 2011–12 Portland State budget plan was unveiled at two campus forums held in the Smith Memorial Student Union on May 11. The plan is contingent upon final budget decisions from the Oregon University System, but provides the clearest picture yet of PSU’s strategy for managing the coming academic year with a severely reduced budget.

Among the planned cuts for the 2011–12 academic year is an across-the-board three percent reduction in operating costs. This reduction is significant because these changes will be permanent, extending beyond the current economic climate, according to PSU administrators.

The budget plan was presented by Roy Koch, vice provost of Academic Affairs, along with Lindsay Desrochers, who is the vice president of Finance and Administration.

The PSU University Budget and Planning Office projects an approximate $23.7 million shortfall in funds for campus operations in the coming academic year. This figure, however, does not take into consideration the 9.2 percent increase that full-time resident undergraduate students will face at PSU in 2011–12. Graduate and non-resident students will face an approximate six percent increase in tuition for the same period. This increase in tuition alone will yield $11.3 million, according to figures provided by Koch and Desrochers.

“When you look at the percentages of tuition increase, these represent about a third of the gap that we actually need to fill,” Koch said.

Administrative fees and charges will also increase in the coming academic year, which are expected to yield a further $1.7 million.

One area that will not face cuts is enrollment, according to Koch.

“We asked for plans that did not impact enrollment,” Koch said. “A three percent reduction from each unit is indicated, with that exception. That is really the key issue: We can’t rely on state funding, so we really need to focus on enrollment management.”

PSU President Wim Wiewel said in February that he wishes to increase non-resident enrollment at PSU by a figure of 20 percent, which aligns with statements Koch made about the importance of enrollment management.

When asked what measures administrators would take to preserve academic quality while increasing enrollment out of proportion to staff, Koch said that the Center for Academic Excellence has been developing measures of student success and educational quality for the past 10 years, but that no current measures have been arrived at.

While the Center for Academic Excellence’s website does not have any data on student success, it does offer information for instructors in a section called “teaching large classes.”

Koch said that enrollment management efforts should extend beyond recruitment.

“The second investment that we’ll make in enrollment management is in student affairs,” Koch said. “A customer relations management system will allow us to interact directly with anyone who expresses an interest in Portland State. The idea is to create a profile, in terms of their interests, like does when they recommend items based on your previous interactions.”

Administrators are also directing instructional units to hold 30 percent of their beginning year fund balances, and for non-instructional units to hold 40 percent.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will receive 100 percent of its budget request for teaching, student and research support. However, data is not available on what this budget line represents in terms of staffing and support.

Some line items that are budgeted include $378,881 for the Provost’s Office to increase student retention, $107,820 for the President’s Office to hire an additional business center fiscal officer, and $1,012,000 for research administration professionals, information technology staff and high-priority software.

One student attending the forum expressed concern that the focus on increasing non-resident enrollment, which brings in more tuition dollars, might negatively impact Oregon students seeking higher education at PSU.

“We will monitor more closely the intake of freshman students,” Koch said. “We’ll be more selective and more supportive of them. We are not intending to reduce the number of Oregon residents served, but as we grow we’ll pay particular attention to serving Oregon students while increasing non-resident enrollment to help with fiscal issues.” ?