Humboldt State President Lisa Rossbacher said the university is facing a looming financial crisis that has become worse over the past year. If the deficit is not addressed now, she said the school will face that crisis.
“Now, based on the Governor’s budget, enrollment projections, and other factors, HSU’s Budget Office estimates we are facing a $7 million deficit during 2018-19 that would grow to a $9 million deficit in 2019-20,” Rossbacher said in an email obtained by North Coast News. “To put this in perspective, our overall operating budget is about $134 million this year, and we currently have just over $6 million in operating reserves.”
According to Rossbacher, HSU’s budget situation has worsened over the course of this year because of ongoing deficit spending in some areas, unfunded increases in salary and benefits, a continued decline in enrollment, and projections based on the recent state budget for 2018-19 proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
“As we entered this year, we had reduced expenditures by about $1.5 million, and progress was being made on an additional $2.8 million in reductions,” Rossbacher said.
But Rossbacher said the reason behind the financial worries is “the changing higher education landscape, insufficient state funding, looming economic downturn, increasing mandatory costs, fluctuating enrollment, and deficit spending.”
A proposed budget is scheduled to be developed by Feb. 22 and the president is expected to approve the 2018-19 budget by March 29.
So, how does the university fix this problem?
Well, the president said the campus has held a series of open forum meetings to discuss how these factors have impacted the financial landscape on the campus. She has shared the following steps going forward:
• Implement a 5% reduction in current year operating expense budgets (non-personnel)
• No tenure-line faculty position requests for fall 2019
• Hiring chill: All staff and administrator hiring requests continue to be approved by Cabinet with the intent of reducing recruitments over the next 18 months
• Academic Programs and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness will assist the Colleges in building fall 2018 and spring 2019 class schedules that align available instructional resources with student course need
• All General Fund travel expenditures and other expenditures of $2,000 or more must be approved by the appropriate Vice President
Some short-term steps we will be taking:
• Cabinet will incorporate Phase II feedback into the February 22 reduction plan
• University Resources & Planning Committee (URPC) is developing a budget oversight policy
• Benchmark and recalibrate our spending by category (FIRMS codes) based on CSU system data
• Reduce an estimated 40-50 budgeted staff and administrator positions
• Reduce temporary faculty appointments in fall 2018
• Reorganize or consolidate units and functions
• Identify and implement process improvements
• Complete and implement Strategic Enrollment Management plan
• Rigorous review of all programs (administrative and academic) on campus
• Integrated assessment, planning, and budget process
• Enhanced fundraising efforts