Thursday, June 6, 2013

Budget Meeting 6/5/2013 PANIC

There was a Budget Meeting yesterday. Urgo was not present, and probably won't be for future meetings and discussions, so as a "campus community" we should "mentally move on." Dad (via Urgo) went out for cigarettes and hasn't come back since (via seasons 16, episode 19 of the Simpsons when Nelson explains that his Dad went out for cigarettes and said 'smell ya later', but then he never smelled Nelson again #sad #bullies).

Anyway, Dorothy Fisher (who I have never met but she has cool lipstick) was there and transcribed a bunch of the questions and answers which is super rad. They are below~ thx bb #grateful(dead)

[Editor's Note: The Q&A is in live-blog format, so it's in reverse order, so read it from the bottom up plz. I bolded some 'cool' questions]

Meeting over everyone go home
friendly reminder to submit q’s to the budget committee via that google doc
Q- can there be a schedule of alumni weekend, or should we just go to the waterfront for 48 hours?
A- ok yeah we’ll send that out to faculty and staff
Q- will admissions committee be present during alumni weekend?
A- yes

Q- think about alumni who are also staff when thinking about branding because they know some shit
A- yeah
Q- why the fuck was there a shortfall?
A- idk but we need to look at data and self-evaluate
Q- hesitation about branding?
A- what are ‘authentic’ messages of St Mary’s? How do we communicate those messages?

Q- is board looking at branding’s relationship to budget shortfall?
A- we have a consulting company (which is obviously pretty shitty?) but this is so sudden (??) that no specific conclusions have been drawn
Q-What is happening with the gallery? (Who asked this? It wasn’t me…)
A-Reduction in operating budget. Cristin will have to decide how the gallery is maintained. The art storage facility has needs that need to be addressed. Selling some of the art is possible, but very complicated and would require we use the money to support the collection. The gallery will probably be kind of open.
Q- what about short-staffed staff depts?
A- this is a tricky one. no deets yet. concerns have been heard

Q- is college’s ‘branding’ changing?
A- short answer yes. Long answer not sure how this will need to change

Efforts to strengthen transfer pipeline for the base and others
Reduced personnel is not going to mean increased workload for remaining personnel. If anything, reduced services
Aaaaand there is now a new student/ family helpline, and admissions is trying to get out the message for first years that everything is stable
Also there is some kind of roster for enthusiastic alumni
Q- what about implementing alumni interviews? Not even as screening but as a persuasive tool
A- this is a great idea, which will be given to admissions

Q- can we harness the alumni to get a lot of energy and also dollars?? Specifically alumni weekend is like tomorrow, so hop to it
A- St Mary’s is all about people, community, stick to our talking points, ask alumni for money this weekend and also ideas

Q- wtf is up with budget increases in specific disciplines?
A- specific alumni gifts (I was wondering this too)

Q- are we asking Rich Edgar to come back??
- long applause-
A- it has been proposed, but isn’t currently in the cards

Also we’ve gotten an assload of donation money recently. Not sure if this is the same $$ mentioned in the email about jurgo or whether this $$ goes toward budget shortfall
Q- continued support for admissions while it reevaluates etc?
A- we need everyones good energy used for publicity and be tactical about reducing budget for fund raising and admissions
Q- is there alumni involvement w/ budget issues??
A- idk
(Beth Rushing is going to take the issue of Alumni back to budget committee for discussion)
also there was a weird discussion about pins that i didn’t understand
Q- will eliminated positions come back when things get better?
A- proposals for all new positions come to budget committee, which is transparent and recommends to president which new budget expenditures get put in place—it sounds like eliminated positions are really gone?
Q- why is the block grant a good thing?
A- it provides a tremendous amount of autonomy and has preserved us through many times of financial hardship—we might tweak block grant but it is here

Q- what about facilities improvements
A- 10% cut to projects this fiscal year. Long term facilities master plan was just completed, basically everything is going to be put off and the plan will be reevaluated and adjusted
A- Anne Arundel hall is state money so it’s going ahead anyway
Q- (convoluted) but I think it was about bloated administrator salaries?
A- no one has thought about this yet but they need to and it will definitely a topic of consideration
Q- why aren’t staff eligible for wage increase?
A- because the state doesn’t earmark money for that specifically and it just comes in a block grant which is different from other colleges and now that we have no money we can’t? Someone also shouted out that they would rather have less or no raise than have people lose their jobs
A- independent and committee reviews are underway, no actual changes yet
Q- how has commitment to academics actually played out?
A- filling vacant faculty spots, more proposed reduction of academic dept budgets than is necessary to best optimize what comes from where (this didn’t make sense to me)
A- also everyone on the committee wants to hear what you think about budget cuts

Q- dept chair budget cuts were proposed
A- they did a good job and if they have more ideas Beth rushing wants to know about them?
Q-enrollment data
A- final numbers won’t be real until the fall, but we need to plan for 3.5 mil
A- this is a problem that will be with us for a few years, and once we solve this in the short term we will need to keep thinking long trtm
Chip Jackson chokes up: “These are tough times for the college. Don’t let it be divisive.”
Discussion of living wage and furloughs etc: there will definitely be furloughs. there will also not be the recently state-mandated 3% cost of living increase but there will still be wage increases? Lowest end of pay scale gets highest increases. Same with furloughs. Low end of pay scale will get fewest furlough days.
20 vacant positions will “not not be filled” and 18 vacant positions will not be filled
Personnel: it’s possible to solve shortfall without layoffs???
Consistent discussion about implementation of transparency
4 principles for budget reductions:
1) preserve core academic principles
2) focus on teaching
4) work on unfilled positions rather than cutting people
(Sorry, I missed #3)
Budget stuff now:
enrollment level def means 3.5 million budget reduction
Kate Chandler is on budget committee! Also a lot of cool faculty! Also staff, students and administrators! Good.
Q- new/interim pres needs to be willing to conduct internal review and understand ‘soul’ of the college

Q- why doing pres search and admissions reevaluation simultaneously?
A- issues are complex but a ‘course correction’ can still be executed in the short term
Q— why are we using an organization to find a candidate for an interim president rather than looking at internal candidates?
A— we are looking for someone with wide range of leadership experience, not just student life or faculty or fundraising
Q— what is the long term efficacy of these presidential searches—this is the 3rd in 4 years? we need to think longer term than this
A— small, efficient, transparent committee? They’re not sure yet? Counseling with other people who do these kinds of searches (that’s a job?)
Q-  student/faculty involvement in search for short and long term presidents?
A- “A representative” from student faculty staff each. Balance of inclusive and efficient
External agency is seeking interim president. Expect person by July or August. “Not just a placeholder” —not an internal faculty/admin person then
Increasing board involvement on campus. Seeking ideas about how to interact with students more.
liveblogging budget meeting commencing


  1. (Whoops, commented this on the wrong post)
    There is now a petition for bringing back Rich Edgar.

    Hopefully it'll have more impact than the last one...

  2. Anybody know more about the "roster for enthusiastic alumni?"

  3. !!! On that point about bloated admin salaries but can we also talk about the # of administrators we have as well (because I feel like we have a lot or maybe this is just a thing with higher ed now?)

  4. The 3 principal (the one the blogger missed) was basically preserve what makes St. Mary's, St. Mary's.