Message from President Wong: Budget Planning and Preparation

Dear SF State Faculty and Staff,

After years in the Midwest, one of my favorite phrases goes something like this: “Better to have a plan and not need it, then need a plan and not have it” (author unknown). It has helped me understand that a good plan is never wasted, whether used or not. We are about a week to 10 days away from a significant date. The state budget “May Revise” typically comes out mid-May and strongly signals what will be in the Governor’s final budget, in this instance for 2018-2019. From that moment through June 29, at 11:59pm, negotiations on the budget enter their final phase. The effort by the Chancellor’s Office, our labor groups, our students, faculty, staff and supporters to secure adequate funding for the CSU has been significant. I applaud the effort. Let’s continue to monitor the news.

Meantime, the cabinet and I have been planning and modeling our own budget scenarios based on a number of factors: the state allocation, no tuition increase, enrollment projections, our own fixed costs, expenses and budgets. We have also looked at the multi-year picture (if X happens, what does that do to 2019-2020, 2020-2021, etc.). We do not want short term fixes to significantly alter our long term plans. Right now, we are looking at a one to two percent reduction in our General Fund allocation. This amounts to about $3.6 million. This rises if we do not meet our enrollment goals.

Significant pieces of the puzzle are now becoming clear. There will be no tuition increase (a very good thing for our students and families). We believe our enrollment will remain relatively stable if we continue to follow current efforts. The state allocation, although not settled, will likely be less than we need to fully fund our priorities. (Of course, any increase will be well received.) We have reached a point where we need to look at efficiencies and reductions to meet this short-term challenge--all with a mind to prioritizing our mission, delivering the curriculum and supporting our students’ success.

Along with cabinet discussions and preparations, I’ve asked each of the Vice Presidents to analyze their budget strategies in order to prepare for a budget shortfall in the year ahead. The University Budget Committee under interim VP Ann Sherman’s leadership and her budget team will address these issue as well.

I want to thank all of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community supporters for your hard work, focus and commitment to the success of our students.

Dr. Leslie E. Wong