Budget suggestions: September 17, 2013
Two ways to combat a budget issue: 1. Increase Revenue. 2. Reduce spending. Plain and simple. Everyone likes analogies so let me start with one: if you are in a boat taking on water, and all you have available is a teacup, do you use the teacup to try and save the boat, or do you just go down with it? I say, use the teacup. After all, every little bit helps.
As the President mentioned in the SOTU address, increasing revenue via tuition is not likely due to the statistics of graduating seniors entering higher education. We must provide more incentives to attract those seniors to this campus. Offer more certificate programs orassociate degrees based on what our faculty are already qualified to teach. DO NOT offer new programs that will require hiring more instructors.
Charge for parking. With roughly 9,000 students and employees, a $25 annual fee would bring in almost a quarter million. For a higher fee, employees can get reserved parking. Also, start ticketing those that are parked out of regulation. Jump on the Marcellus bandwagon.
If we can put aside our qualms about fracking for a minute, consider that private land owners all over the region are selling their rights to Marcellus and shell gas and active drilling is taking place as I write this. That means that the gas is being extracted right out from under the university whether we contract or not. Essentially, everyone is reaping the benefits except us.
Reducing spending is always tricky. First, I think we need to reign in any wasteful spending. Every department's annual budget should be gone through with a fine-tooth comb to ensure that only the necessary spending is taking place. These individual departments need to throw away the old idea of "if I don't spend it all this year, I won't get as much next year." Keep the university's greater interests in mind when evaluating your spending. I am sure that there is plenty of wasteful spending going on across campus, but no one wants to hand back any monies that they were awarded. Sure, a birthday party every month is just a drop in the bucket, but every drop counts. I think that I can say with much certainty, all employees would rather keep their job and salary rather than have a piece of cake once in a while.
Again, from the SOTU address, we know that ~81% of the Univeristy's budget comes in the form of salaries and benefits.Public information dated March of 2013 shows that 97 employees make over $100,000 a year. Offer a voluntary reduction program. I don't know the exact numbers, but if the top earners gave up 1% of their salaries, how much would that save the university? Of course, some incentive would have to be offered in return; an extra personal day, future profit sharing (if there is surplus again), a round of golf on the president, etc.
Also, am I the only one that found it odd that immediately after announcing how much is spent on salaries that wewere introduced to 30+ new employees?!?! Compare the revenue earned at our branch campuses (McKeever and Cranberry) to the operating expenses of keeping these facilities open. For example, would it be feasible to close Cranberry and have those classes held here at Slippery Rock?
Offer staff opportunities to work remotely or a 4-day work week, if their job is flexible enough to accommodate this. Alternately, keep the summer hours year-round. This will not reduce salaries, but will reduce operating costs by having offices closed (less electricity, heating/cooling/etc). Operating costs can also be reduced by consolidating office space and/or classrooms. If one building has 20 classrooms, but only 18 are used in a given day, move 2 classes from another building to the unused rooms.
Take a look at the University's fleet of vehicles and equipment. I have seen some new cars on campus lately. Was it absolutely necessary to buy new vehicles or wasn't the proper maintenance done on the old ones? Do some departments NEED 2 cars and a golf cart? Or can they get by with just one? During the SOTU address, it was mentioned that if we completely cut program A, it wouldn't touch the bottom line. Or if we cut program B, it wouldn't equate either. Apparently, "across the board cuts" have been ruled out. Why? What if we cut a little from A, a little from B, etc. Going back to my analogy, we can use the teacup, or we can just start sinking. The choice lies in all of us.
Too many lights on in too many buildings, especially at night, weekends and when not in use. Take out every other bulb in the hallways.