Budget concerns addressed at Faculty Senate


Kelly Wenzel

CFO and Vice President of Business Affairs, Michelle Gates, on the right, addressed the Faculty Senate on May 8 at the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building on the budget.

By Campus Reporter

Michelle Gates, CFO and vice president of Business Affairs, visited the Faculty Senate May 8, continuing the conversation surrounding the 2015—2016 fiscal year budget.

According to Gates, the proposed budget will be sent to the board of trustees for approval during its final meeting on May 12.

The budget will then be revisited in the fall for adjustments based on the incoming enrollment, Gates said, adding that she will be working during the coming months to present budget information through the college’s website. 

Gates said recent efforts to reduce spending and build next year’s budget have been successful, including the 2015 Voluntary Separation. 

Everyone who applied for the program was accepted, including 34 faculty and 31 staff members, achieving the program’s total cap of $5 million in salary and benefits, Gates said. 

The Voluntary Separation Incentive Program is one of many actions aimed at building next year’s budget, including reductions in the college’s expenses and the consolidation of some administrative functions. Those who were accepted for the VSIP now have 45 days to withdraw from the process if they change their mind.

Faculty members present at the meeting expressed concern regarding the new budget cycle, such as the effects it could have on technology-based classes that need to order updated technology yearly and cannot receive the equipment until the middle of the fall semester.

David Tarleton, an assistant professor in the Cinema Art + Science Department, said the budget “screws” his classes every year for this reason, suggesting that the budget comes out earlier so the technology labs are fully stocked with equipment when new students enter the classroom in the fall.

“What we have is this disconnect between the annual cycle,” Tarleton said. “It directly affects the students’ experience for the first third of the fall semester. From a faculty perspective, moving it to an earlier point would be incredibly important. It’s probably one of the biggest problems we have.”

Gates said although the budget cycle will not be a quick fix because it will take at least a year to plan, she will continue to work on a solution so it does not have an impact on students and faculty.

The Senate announced that Greg Foster-Rice, an associate professor in the Photography Department, will fill the position as president of the Senate, taking over for the current president, Peter Carpenter, an associate professor in the Dance Department. Foster-Rice was elected by the Senate and officially took office at the end of the meeting. 

“It’s very humbling to be up here in front of such esteemed colleagues,” Foster-Rice said. “We look forward to continuing the good work of the outgoing executive committee and the senate and to facilitate the transition of the senate, which includes a lot of new members.” 

Carpenter reflected on the previous year and said it has been a very productive yet challenging year for the Faculty Senate and that he is excited to see what will be accomplished next year. 

“There were moments that felt really charged during this year,” Carpenter said. “I just want to say each time that we practiced making it through one of those moments, we developed resilience as an institution and I am grateful to [have been] a part of that.”

Foster-Rice said he looks forward to the opportunities that lay ahead and to continue to revise and adopt the curriculum policy manual and the academic program definitions to effectively represent the college.