CAPRA MEETING, SEPTEMBER 26, 2008

MINUTES

Attending:  Paul Bingham, Kevin Brady, Alan Calder, Bill Godfrey, Norm Goodman, Joan Kuchner, Susan Lieberthal, Daria Semegen, Larry Wittie, and special guest, Dan Melucci

The meeting began at 2:35 P.M.

Budget update

Presentation by Dan Melucci:  The principal part of the meeting was a presentation by and discussion with Dan Melucci about the current budget situation.  Dan indicated that there has been no new budget information since President Kenny’s September 2nd memo to the campus community.  However, he provided an overview and history of the current budgetary situation as best known at this time: 

The Legislature passed a “flat” budget for 2008-2009.  Shortly thereafter, Governor Patterson was informed that NYS revenues were less than anticipated, consequently he required all state agencies (which includes SUNY) to effect a 3.35% budget cut plus a limit on expenditures from some revenue accounts that totaled $50 million for SUNY.  The effect for Stony Brook was a $7.4 million cut.  President Kenny was able to use one-time funds to reduce the problem by one half.  However, as the economy of NYS deteriorated, Governor Patterson ordered another $600 million cut, which translated to a $96.3 million additional budget reduction for SUNY.  Stony Brook’s expected share of this cut was an additional $13.4 million.  However, there was some word from System Administration that it would absorb $56.3 of this cut and campuses would only have to absorb the remaining $40 million.  If that were the case, Stony Brook’s cut would be $5.5 million instead of $13.4 million.  The total of the two rounds of cuts, so far, would be about $13 million for Stony Brook. However, more recent word from System Administration suggests that campuses would be asked to absorb between $40 million and $70 million of the $96.3 million cut to SUNY, probably closer to $70 million.  In addition, a recent “call letter” from the NYS Division of the Budget asked all state agencies to submit a budget for 2009-2010 that does not exceed the 2008-2009 levels. This language suggests that the campuses will have to absorb from their own budgets the negotiated salary increases for faculty and staff, which would be an additional $12 million cut for Stony Brook.  If all of these cuts were to go through, the total cut for Stony Brook would be $7.4 million + $5-10 million + $12 million = $25-30 million, a budget reduction that is unsustainable without serious damage to the institution.  Future years look bad as well, and campuses will have to substantially reduce the size of their state purposes budget.  Senior administrators on campus are being asked to consider what they can contribute to this expected reduction in the size of Stony Brook’s state purposes budget.

NYS has not suggested any early retirement program that might generate some funds, though the current state of the economy and its effect on retirement funds make it less likely that faculty and staff would avail themselves of an early retirement incentive even if it were made available.
 
General discussion:  There followed a discussion about what can be done about the current situation.   A tuition increase would relieve some of the financial pressures, though there has only been one tuition increase in the past 13 years.  A 1% increase in tuition would yield an additional $1.1 million in revenue.  A tuition increase of $720 would help to absorb most of the initial two budget cuts SUNY sustained at the beginning of the year ($96.3 million + $50 million).  This level of increase would bring tuition to $5, 070, which would essentially be covered by TAP for the most financially vulnerable students.  It was pointed out, however, that as the state and national economies falter, it may be politically difficult to raise tuition.  The SUNY Student Assembly Executive Committee has endorsed the idea of a “rational tuition policy” that would tie tuition increases to some recognized index like the “Higher Education Price Index” to provide for small, orderly, and predictable tuition increases.  However, it is not clear whether this would be approved by the entire Student Assembly.  There has been no indication of an interest in raising campus fees in lieu of or in addition to a tuition increase since fees are not covered by TAP and would require approval of System Administration.  And the issue of differential tuition is not currently being considered by SUNY.

There was some discussion about whether reducing admissions would help the current budgetary problem.  However, since the number of students plays a substantial role in the allocation of funds to campuses via the BAP II (Budget Allocation Process II), reducing admissions would lead to reduced funds and thus doesn’t seem to be a solution to the problem.

SUNY received substantially more cuts than CUNY, Community Colleges, or the private colleges and universities in NYS (“Bundy aid”) because it alone, among these institutions, is categorized as a state agency.  This categorization has to be changed, though it will be a difficult and long-term process to do so.  There are some people on this campus and around SUNY who are working on this problem.

Given that 95 % of the Stony Brook budget is taken up by personnel (82%) and energy costs (13%), if the level of the budget reductions described above are to be met, it will likely have to involve cuts in administrative, faculty, and staff positions.  However, there has been no discussion in System Administration about declaring a state of “fiscal exigency,” which would permit the breaking of existing contracts and tenure.

There was some discussion about ways to generate revenue to meet the campus’ budgetary needs.  Dan was asked how royalty income is used.  He said that there is a formula that distributes 40-50% to the “inventor,” 10% to support licensing activities, 25% to the academic area (the provost and the deans), and the rest to the president.

It was suggested that faculty could be organized to provide consulting services for a fee, part of which would go to the campus.  Similarly, it was pointed out that if the campus provided incentives for faculty to engage an entrepreneurial spirit on campus that would generate sorely-needed revenue. 

The role of the Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, who is simultaneously, the Vice President for Economic Development, has experience in entrepreneurial activities and his relevant expertise would be most helpful at this time.

Next meeting:  October 10, 2008

The agenda for this meeting is:

  • Space issues: Graham Glynn on the Stony Brook Learning Space Policy and Procedures and Brent Lindquist  on the results and use of the West Campus Space Survey (both documents were previously distributed)
  • Reconstitute the subcommittees carried over from last year to complete their work and to consider whether any new subcommittees are required.
  • Joan Kuchner has replace Hugh Silverman as CAPRA’s representative to Department/Program Academic Reviews.  Paul Bingham volunteered to help when possible.  Two reviews have already been scheduled:  Material Sciences on October 28-29 and Economics on November 18-19

The meeting ended at 3:50 P.M.