Helen Giles-Gee, President
[Note: This document represents the president's written draft of her remarks on Oct. 30, 2009. It does not include audience follow-up questions or other remarks.]
Good afternoon. Today I will respond to a number of questions that have arisen as a result of various actions impacting the state's and college's budgets. Some of these state-level actions have raised anxiety and concern over the status of the College budget and the employment status of our employees.
1. What is the status of the College's enrollment?
Enrollment documented at 30 days after registration closed, or r+30, for first-year, first time students numbered 1,189 for fall 2009. The College deliberately aimed to bring down the number of new students in this category after enrolling a higher number last year. The number of transfer students increased significantly, from 170 in 2008 to 236 in 2009, thereby adding new students who should need courses at the junior and senior levels, thus putting a lower stress on introductory level courses. The total undergraduate enrollment increased from 4,866 in 2008 to 4,990 in 2009.
2. The Governor has called for layoffs of state workers. Will Keene State College have to lay off employees?
The simple response to this question is, no. Keene State College is not planning to lay off employees at this time. The Governor's request for layoffs applied to employees within state agencies. Prior to 1963, Keene Teachers College was under the aegis of the State Board of Education and functioned as a state agency. The faculty and staff were state employees who "conformed to the State's personnel program."
In 1963, a Commission appointed by then Governor Wesley Powell presented an "Act Relative to the Reorganization of Public Higher Education in New Hampshire" to the New Hampshire General Court. The legislation that followed removed Keene Teachers College from the supervision of the State Board of Education and renamed it Keene State College. Keene State College was placed under the jurisdiction of the Board of Trustees along with their own personnel policies. (http://www.usnh.edu/about/index.shtml; Senate Bill 68 An Act Relative to the Reorganization of Public Higher Education in New Hampshire (Striving, p. 183,) Effected July 1, 1963.)
According to the website for the State Employees Association of New Hampshire, which represents employees of the state of New Hampshire,
"The State has issued layoff, demotion, transfer, and reassignment notices in a few agencies. If you receive a notice, please contact SEA immediately at 271-3411. The SEA's ability to assist you..." (http://www.seiu1984.org/) These layoffs do not apply to KSC personnel.
3. The College has considered furlough procedures and has amended the December/January 2009-2010 holiday schedule to allow for furloughs. Will there be a furlough during the upcoming holiday season?
No. There will be no furloughs during the December holiday schedule for 2009 through January 2010. Furloughs require significant planning prior to decision making. To assure that the College is able to conduct furloughs if needed, we developed an appropriate calendar, but we will not be implementing a furlough during the 2009 year end.
4. What is the status of the State's revenues?
In my most recent budget letter, I reported an August 2009 State budget deficit of $17.6 million with a lower than projected state unrestricted revenue of $187.5 million. The deficit declined in September 2009 to $8.5 million with reported state unrestricted revenue of $190 million also below projections.
5. What is the status of the $110 million dollars from the Medical Malpractice Insurance Fund of the Joint Underwriting Association (JMA), considered by the Legislature and the Governor for use to balance the budget? http://www.seiu1984.org/
The surplus funds from the Medical Malpractice Insurance Fund of the JMA are being held pending a decision by Superior Court Judge Kathleen McGuire about whether the assets belong to the physicians who contributed to the funds or to the State who created the Fund as an option for doctors.
Governor John Lynch and the Legislature requested a transfer of the surplus JMA funds to the General fund only after the attorney general's office advised this transfer was legal. (Bea Lewis, June 30, 2009. firstname.lastname@example.org) The Court's ruling is due by Thanksgiving. (Kathy Salisbury, USNH, October 29, 2009) (http://www.citizen.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090630/GJNEWS02/706309972/-1/CITIZEN)
6. When will I know about any increase in my salary?
For nonfaculty employees, the Board will consider rendering a judgment at its meeting in February 2010. For faculty, KSCAA and KSCEA negotiations will determine the status of salaries under parameters agreed to by the Board.
7. Why is the College spending money to build an Alumni Center rather than on faculty and staff?
Capital funds solicited for the building of the Alumni Center can only to be spent on that building project. Analogous to mortgage-funds used to pay for debt owed to a lender for the purchase or building of a home, these monies cannot be used for another purpose. In addition, a fund-raising campaign is underway to pay for part of the cost of the building and for its programming.
8. Why has the College hired so many new staff, especially in Advancement, rather than hiring faculty?
Two years ago, I requested that the Board of Trustees provide funds to build up the College's infrastructure for fund raising. The Board provided funds from a reserve account to be spent on fundraising and only fundraising. These funds are being spent to support the staff necessary to raise money to support programs, scholarships, faculty, and capital projects.
9. Why didn't you ask for funds for faculty instead of for staff? Why aren't you hiring new faculty and new staff?
After discussion with and reaching agreement in the Cabinet, Dr. Jay Kahn and I presented the idea of a sustainable fiscal model to the Finance committee of the Trustees to accommodate staffing needs for faculty and staff and more. This is an ongoing discussion.
Over the past three years, the College has hired additional new faculty and staff positions and has converted some long-term contractual positions into continuing positions. I am working with Director of Human Resources Kim Harkness to develop a list of the positions and to identify the funds used to pay for these positions for the record. In addition, I am working with the Provost and the HR Council to identify the positions needed in the future.
10. Is the Senior Assistant to the President and Legislative Liaison a new position?
No, this is not a new position. The title was changed and responsibilities of the former Executive Assistant to the President were expanded after there was a system-wide change in the position title of the assistants to the president to Executive assistants. The Executive Assistant title is now held by Ms. Ann Gagnon and her counterparts at other USNH institutions.
In closing, there is much information yet to learn about the state's budget. Be assured, I will keep you informed of key decisions impacting the College's budget and employees.
Helen F. Giles-Gee