I want to thank everyone for their patience over the past couple of weeks as we have started to implement the campus-wide budget-balancing plan. These are difficult times, and the solutions are no less difficult. Three consecutive years of enrollment declines, as well as continued reductions in state funding, have put YSU behind the proverbial 8 ball. We are not alone – many colleges and universities across the nation are feeling the same pinch. It will take persistence and commitment from us all to see ourselves through these challenges, and I want to acknowledge the understanding that all have shown thus far.
For the budget-balancing plan to be successful, and to avoid any additional reductions this fiscal year, it is imperative that we keep a very close eye on expenditures moving forward. As you know, we are reducing operating budgets across campus, affecting everything from office supplies and printing to postage and maintenance, by about $1.4 million. The plan also includes tightening all discretionary spending across the university. In particular, I have advised financial managers across campus that:
- Any and all travel will require the written, pre-approval on the travel form by the appropriate area division officer or his/her designee.
- All other operating expenses, including equipment and procurement card purchases, will be monitored closely by the appropriate area division officer through a special reporting process.
- Discretionary personnel expenses, including overtime and the use of occasional service and intermittent staff, should be reviewed very carefully. Written pre-approvals are required for supplemental contracts.
We hope to realize about $3 million in savings in discretionary spending in the little more than eight months that we have between now and the end of the fiscal year on June 30. That’s a big, important challenge that, while daunting, I am confident we can succeed in meeting.
While we closely scrutinize every dollar we spend, we also will work to preserve academic programs and services to ensure the success of our students. I want students, their parents, the community, university supporters and everyone to rest assured that, despite the financial challenges we face at this given time, YSU is as committed and prepared as ever to fulfill our historic mission as a progressive and quality institution of higher education.
Finally, as I have said in previous columns, increasing enrollment is crucial to helping us stabilize our revenue. I believe we have the potential, ability and the capacity to move our numbers, and I am hopeful that the hiring of Gary Swegan as our new enrollment “guru” enhances our chances even more. There is much work left to do.