University budget enters final stages

On Wednesday, the University Budget Team presented the 2010–11 budget recommendations during a campus-wide forum.

On Wednesday, the University Budget Team presented the 2010–11 budget recommendations during a campus-wide forum. Audience members were encouraged to ask questions and provide input before the budget goes to the university president for approval. A second forum was also held yesterday.

The forum was one of the last steps in developing the university’s budget for the next fiscal year. On Monday, the president received the preliminary budget proposals from the UBT, which is comprised of Provost and vice president for Academic Affairs Roy Koch, vice president of the Office of Finance and Administration Lindsay Desrochers, budget director Michael Fung from the Budget and Planning Office and Carol Mack, vice provost for Academic Administration and Planning in the Office of Academic Affairs.

Koch and Desrochers led the forum, which presented the UBT’s list of recommended investments and re-investments. According to Koch, the UBT created a set of principles, based on initial input from campus leadership, that were reasonable for making determinations on how to allocate the university’s resources. According to a memo sent out by the UBT, the principles are:

-Continuing support for enrollment growth

-Addressing compensation issues and other salary adjustments

-Supporting student success with a particular focus on improving retention and the overall student experience

-Enhancing the infrastructure, including the faculty required to expand institutional resources

-Supporting efforts to increase externally funded research

-Rebuilding support services capacities

The UBT’s proposed investments were also based on several assumptions in the budget plan, according to Desrochers. The UBT estimated a 3 percent overall enrollment growth, no further state funding reductions for the rest of the 2009–11 biennium, tuition rate increases of 8 percent for resident undergraduates, 2 percent for non-resident undergraduates and 1 percent for resident and non-resident graduate students.

In addition, the passage of tax measures 66 and 67, on the ballot during Oregon’s special election last fall, had a great influence on the budget process, according to Desrochers.

“The fact that those measures were passed does not mean it’s a free-spending zone,” she said. “It simply means that we could make more investments as a result of the enrollment growth, and because of the fact that we didn’t have to take more cuts, we could make strategic investments.”

Among one of the UBT’s priorities is restoring faculty and staff salaries to 2009 levels. Restoration of salaries made up a large portion—$2,400,000—of the allocation money going into the budget’s teaching component.

In addition, the UBT proposed to allocate $1 million to support the Mandatory Undergraduate Advising initiative, which will be implemented this fall.

“[Mandatory advising] has been something we’ve been talking about here at Portland State since I can remember,” Koch said. “The issue has always been how are we going to support it.”

According to Koch, the initial allocation is the first down payment in an ongoing investment to help support the program. The money will also support some of the technological advances that will help create unified advising records, ensuring that advisors and faculty will have access to the same information over time.

Another significant proposal made by the UBT was a $1.5 million allocation that will go into expanding the university’s tuition remission program.

“This is a first step in helping with retention and completion-related issues for students who are financially challenged,” Koch said.

In addition, the UBT recommended adding two financial aid counselors to help students with financial needs, in addition to enhancing retention.

After presenting the budget allocations, Koch and Desrochers handed the floor over to the audience to provide input and to ask questions.

One question asked was regarding prioritizing cuts, specifically if any must be made over the next year.

“[The UBT is] cautiously budgeting the dollars,” Desrochers said. “Our assumption about the 3 percent enrollment growth is more modest than what people think will actually occur, so that will provide some buffer.”

Another issue raised was whether or not financial aid would compensate the university’s rising tuition. In response, Desrochers said that annually implemented remissions will not keep up with tuition growth.

“We’re on the path to establishing an investment approach going forth for several years, to at least match what [Oregon State University] and [University of Oregon] are putting into their fee remissions,” she said.

According to the 2010–11 budget development schedule, the university president will finalize the budget plan and inform the community on the budget status during the week of May 10–15.

For more information about Portland State’s budget process, visit