Strategic Planning Initiative

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Strategic Priorities for Decision Making FY 2011-13
Community Conversations with Linda Rinker, Sean Loughran and Dan Goble

Meetings
April 16, 2010: School of Visual & Performing Arts
April 26, 2010: SUOAF
April 28, 2010: School of Arts & Sciences, School of Professional Services, SGA
April 28, 2010: SGA
April 29, 2010: Ancell School of Business
May 11, 2010: Library Faculty/Staff
May 12, 2010: Student Affairs

Distributed: 

Background:  

  • In March the CSUS System Office asked all four universities to submit a budget for FY12 that included a 5%, 10%, 15% and 20% reduction.  This request was done in part so the System Office could articulate to legislators and/or the general public what impact these cuts might have. The reduced budgets were submitted and with it Dr. Schmotter sent a letter stating that additional time and thought was needed in order to conduct strategic planning before any definitive reductions could be determined.  Instead of arbitrary across-the-board cuts, WCSU’s plan is to review our Strategic Plan, our mission and core programs and engage the campus community in assessing strategic priorities. 
  • Dr. Schmotter met with UPBC to talk about the challenges forecast for Connecticut’s budget in FY12 and how we might strategically look at reductions.  UPBC suggested that overarching priorities be indentified as well as the criteria for evaluating programs.  The President and Vice Presidents reviewed our Strategic Plan and from the Plan identified six priorities.  In addition, they established two sets of criteria to consider when evaluating programs and services.  These two documents were then vetted by UPBC.
  • Also at the suggestion of UPBC, a web page has been developed where faculty, staff and students can post priority programs and activities that are vital to the university’s mission as well as ideas on cost savings and revenue enhancement.  The web page can be accessed through WestConnduit; see the last tab on the upper right. 
  • Linda reiterated that she, Sean and Dr. Schmotter are of one accord that one of the overwhelming goals in this undertaking is to protect the workforce on campus in order to support the mission and goals of the university.  This includes staff that supports non-academic services as well as faculty.
  • The Budget Deficit Projections chart shows that in FY12 Connecticut will have over a $3 billion deficit.  Contributing to the FY12 deficit is the fact that all stimulus money and rainy day funds, which were available to enhance the FY11 budget, will be gone.  If WCSU’s FY12 budget is cut by 5 % ($2.4 million) this reduction can be managed, without drastic impact, by keeping positions frozen and reducing maintenance costs and funding for student labor etc.  Cuts above 5% will need to be strategically managed, which most likely will include elimination of some programs or services.  
  • In the university’s FY11 budget the state appropriation makes up 38% of revenue; the rest is from tuition and fees.  Approximately 70% of our expenses are for personnel and fringe benefits.  The remaining 30% of expenses includes fixed costs such as heat, electricity etc. that are difficult to reduce.    The base for reducing expenditures is very small.  We are looking to departments and the wisdom of the faculty and staff to determine priorities and reductions for FY12, instead of cuts coming from Sean or the Vice Presidents. 
  • The message from UPBC is for departments to take the initiative to examine their priorities and expenses.  Determine what your department does best and its core mission and how this work can continue with less money.  We don’t want cuts to be made across-the-board, but rather to craft them strategically. 
  • At this point we have not been asked to make any cuts in either our FY11 or FY12 budgets.  However, it is to our advantage to begin discussing options in the event that reductions are mandated.   If word is received that cuts must be made this information will be conveyed to the campus community and further discussions will take place before any final decisions are made. 
  • We are also looking for suggestions on how to increase revenue.  Actions that have already been taken including reconfiguring summer school to offer classes that students want and need, increasing enrollment and revenue.   In addition, the Math Department will offer remedial classes in the summer next year and discussions are underway to reduce the cost of summer courses in order to compete with community colleges.  The Math Department is also working with Danbury High School to have faculty train high school teachers how to teach remedial math in high school, moving our faculty out of remedial courses.  Online courses are also an opportunity to build revenue, especially Gen. Ed.  courses. 
  • We can also reorganize services to be more efficient and cost effective. 

Common Themes from Meetings:

  • Revenue enhancement opportunities:  summer school; intersession classes; shared online classes
  • Cost cutting measures:  use of technology; website
  • Increase the number of transfer students.
  • Questions regarding enrollment growth.
  • Concerns about potential retirements and the effect on the delivery of services and/or courses.
  • Importance of maintaining a student centered environment.
  • Concerns about the effect of cost-cutting measures on retention and graduation rates.
  • Consider offering courses on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Consider reducing cost for summer courses.

Next Steps:  The President and Vice Presidents are looking for faculty and staff to generate possible savings by:

  • Assessing programs and identifying core activities that are in line with the university’s Strategic Priorities
  • Identifying ways to reengineer or restructure functions to be more efficient and effective and
  • Suggesting ideas to increase revenue. 

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