May 3, 2010
Dear Campus Community:
I commend you on your work to contain costs, reduce expenditures and achieve excellence. You have worked hard and well. Now we must consider not only how we continue our work together, but also the state's economy and its influence on the College. What follows is a summary of what is known about the College's budget at this point. I will inform you when key decisions are made. In addition, I provide information about the outcome of the Cabinet review of strategic initiatives and the proposed review of the strategic plan and planning process.
State Appropriations: First, it is important to consider the context of Governor John Lynch's recent budget recommendation and the implications for University System of New Hampshire (USNH) revenues. As I have recently informed you, Governor John Lynch has proposed that USNH give the state $25 million of operating funds previously allocated for repair and renovation. In return, the state will issue bonds to fund USNH capital projects that could have been addressed by the repair and renovation monies. The USNH Board of Trustees has agreed to this proposal, and it is being considered by the legislature. The state is holding its appropriation to the USNH constant for FY'11 as part of an agreement it made upon accepting federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)/stimulus funds for FY'10. Therefore, at this point in time, the state should continue to provide $100 million in appropriations to the USNH. One bill which called on the USNH to return $10 million to the state has been tabled in the House but not ruled inexpedient to legislate. This means that the bill could return for a review by the Senate. The federal agreement should nullify the impact of this bill as long as the federal government continues their requirement for steady college appropriations.
Enrollment: Until last week, enrollment projections for FY'11 were below those of FY'10 for returning students and new enrollees. Applications were up significantly due to the introduction of online capability and only recently have paid deposits begun to outpace those occurring last year at this time. Also, more returning students have registered than at this time last year. These increases are modest and we must continue to monitor how well enrollment develops over the next week. This means that there is some uncertainty about the final range of enrollment possibilities which will not be conclusive until 30 days after registration (R +30). We cannot wait to consider students' needs for classes and the College's need to efficiently use our faculty resources. In order to deploy faculty most efficiently, with consultation of the Provost, I have notified students that low enrolled courses will be cancelled after May 6 so as to direct resources to needed curricular areas. I know this will create challenges for some departments, and I appreciate your efforts to address these needs.
Summer Session: I am pleased to say that indicators suggest that enrollment for summer session is ahead of last year's. Though the improvement is modest, this is the first increase in a number of years. I thank the extraordinary work of faculty, Continuing Education, the Budget and Resource Council and the Summer School Task Force, which deliberately addressed barriers to summer school enrollment. Because the KSCEA collective bargaining agreement has not yet been signed, I have authorized the faculty summer contracts to be processed initially at last year's salary levels. Adjustments only to higher per credit rates (i.e., no reductions) will be processed immediately upon Trustee approval of the pending KSCEA contract. The College will assume the cost of this maintenance of effort in return for the good faith faculty has demonstrated throughout this bargaining period.
College Budget Factors/Tuition and Fees, Salaries, KSCEA Contract: Given the inconclusive nature of factors affecting the budget, the USNH Board of Trustees has not yet determined certain budget items. I accepted student proposals for fees. My fee recommendation was reviewed and moved forward by the Financial Affairs Committee of the Board. Student fees were approved at the April 29 Board meeting. Further recommendations and actions on budgets, tuition and salaries have been delayed pending more conversation and information-gathering and thus were not voted on during the Trustees' April meeting. I agreed to a delay requested by the Administrative Board, formerly called the Presidents' Council, of a vote by the Board of Trustees on the KSCEA contract. The Board intends to vote on all of these issues at its June meeting. I did bring to the Board a side letter committing the College to the hiring of new tenure track faculty positions, contingent on funding. This letter is not a part of the contract. Yet in demonstrating its understanding of the significance of this commitment, the Executive Committee of the Board approved my signing this side letter by motion and vote. Dr. Patrick Dolenc, President of KSCEA and I signed this side letter on April 29.
FY'10 Strategic Initiatives/Staffing: I am grateful for the time and effort so many of you have put into the FY'10 planning process. The Cabinet and I have reviewed all recurring and new strategic initiatives forwarded by the Planning Council and Budget and Resource Council. We have decided to fund as many of these as possible with end-of-the-year savings to support the diligent work that has contributed to a successful process. The principal administrators recognize the concerted efforts of the entire campus community to think carefully, creatively, and judiciously about how we use KSC resources thereby creating the savings that make this possible. Some initiatives requiring repair and renovation funds may be delayed and others expedited depending on the outcome of the legislature's consideration of Governor Lynch's budget proposal. Staffing requests were prioritized and funded according to priority order. Staff positions remaining on the list will be included in a newly developed staffing plan that will receive continued review. I am committed to developing and implementing the Operating and Professional and Technical Staff Staffing Plan within the bounds of the College's ability to fund it parallel to the Faculty staffing plan. During the April 29 Board meeting, Director of Human Resources Kim Harkness outlined some of the ways that the Cabinet and I have already begun to address the needs for more faculty and staff: e.g., three tenure-track faculty positions for each of the past three years, movement to benefitted positions of some complementary staff and the creation of new staff positions A full account of the Cabinet's review and decisions about FY'10 Strategic Initiatives will be posted on the web soon.
Strategic Plan and FY'11 Planning Process: Having come to the end of our first strategic planning cycle together (2005-2009), it is time to assess results, revisit our goals and recalibrate for the next five years. Over the coming year, the planning council will evaluate the currency of our strategic goals and the College's effectiveness in producing measureable outcomes. During this time, the planning process will be suspended. After one year, the review should foment a new strategic plan and a refined planning process that address the campus' wishes and concerns.
MERCER Study: During their April 29 Board meeting, the Trustees agreed to establish targets for benefits and to charge the Administrative Board (Chancellor and Presidents) with determining short and long term plans to address them. I will be working with Kim Harkness, Vice President for Finance and Planning Jay Kahn, OS and PAT Councils and campus representatives to the USNH personnel committees on these issues as well as continuing dialogue with the campus as we move forward.
And so we wait for state and Board decisions. Yet in waiting, I hope that each of us takes some time to reflect on how well the College has fared in such difficult economic times. While we have been unable to provide salary increases, we have avoided layoffs and position cuts, consistent with the wishes of the campus as clearly expressed in our open forums. I will communicate with you again in June when more is known.
Helen F. Giles-Gee
Keene State has set up this page to share information about the financial challenges facing the College and to ask for ideas and input from the whole campus community. More resources, documents, and interactive features will be posted as the situation develops, so please check back.