Founder’s Hall. Photo: Wikimedia.

Press release from Humboldt State:

Humboldt State University has released its 2018-19 budget, which is focused on addressing a growing budget deficit while also ensuring students have the courses and support to make progress toward graduating.

In a memo to the University community, President Lisa Rossbacher acknowledged that the budget will be challenging to implement. However, she stressed that it shields students as much as possible from the brunt of reductions while also putting the University on the path to a balanced and sustainable budget.

Going forward, the President said, the budget plan will allow the University to invest in important priorities.

“This is a Students First budget, reflecting our shared commitment to providing students with an outstanding educational experience as we move forward with the difficult decisions necessary to achieve fiscal stability,” President Rossbacher wrote.

The new budget includes plans for addressing ongoing shortfalls by reducing $9 million in spending over the next two years. The plan was adopted after more than a year of extensive consultation and feedback across campus. Actions to achieve more than half the reductions have already been made and one-time funding will bridge the remaining reductions with a longer planning and implementation timeframe.

Savings by broad category for the next two years include: $1.39 million in academic support, primarily by eliminating vacant positions; $740,000 in student services, including by reducing the size of international programs and shifting some costs to grant support; $2.75 million in institutional support which includes reductions to staffing and funding in the President’s Office and in Institutional Effectiveness, as well as restructuring in Information Technology; and $1.12 million in operations and maintenance through staff reductions and restructuring.

The reductions also include $3 million to instructional activities, which is being achieved by more efficiently scheduling available classes, limiting elective courses, offering alternate courses for specific requirements, and similar efforts. Based on current plans, the Fall 2018 semester has 93 percent of the spaces in course sections that were offered in Fall 2017, a semester that had higher enrollment and in which course offerings exceeded demand. Choices were made after reviewing historic data and enrollment trends, and examining current course needs based on progress of current students.

The University will also move forward with closing the Third Street Gallery in Eureka, a decision the President describes as particularly difficult. The off-campus gallery has proven expensive to maintain, and while there has been donor support over time, it was not able to develop a sustained, diversified funding base. Some of the savings will be used to ensure students get a similar hands-on experience in galleries on campus, and the Art Department will be exploring new ways to increase community engagement.

The University received many comments about the future of the Children’s Center. As part of this budget plan, the University will seek to find savings in this area, while also maintaining access to childcare. A process has begun that will look at possible savings and new revenue, as well as organizational changes.  Recommendations based on this review of the Center are expected in the fall semester.

The reductions outlined in the new budget plan are targeted, rather than across-the-board. They consider spending levels at campuses in the California State University system that have similar enrollment. HSU spending per student is higher, on average, than these peer campuses. In 2016-17, the latest comparable data available, the University spent $16,882 for each full-time equivalent student (FTES), compared to the $15,104 per FTES average at similar campuses.

Even with the reductions, the University will have an overall operating budget of about $135 million. The operating budget, made up primarily of tuition and state funding, is in addition to research efforts, which bring in approximately $26 million in grants each year, and self-supported operations such as Housing & Residence Life.  Charitable gifts to the University total $5-$6 million annually, usually designated to support specific programs, and the endowment of just over $30 million distributes earnings of about $1.2 million each year for scholarships and programs.

In addition to reductions, the University’s budget planning continues strategic investments in student success. In recent years, examples of these investments have included efforts related to equity and diversity, expansion of student support services, creation of place-based learning communities, a new Center for Teaching and Learning, and new tenure-line faculty positions. Over the past three years, HSU has invested in 75 tenure-line faculty positions, which represents two-thirds of HSU’s new allocations during those years. An additional nine faculty-line positions will be added in Fall 2018.

More information about the University’s budget planning, including the final 2018-19 budget and budget FAQs, is available at the HSU Budget Office website.