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HSU faces $6 million budget deficit

By | Andrew George Butler

The who’s who of Humboldt State University gathered on April 4 at 10 a.m. to discuss the University’s budget deficit. The meeting was lead by the University Resources and Planning Committee, a sub-committee made up from HSU administrators, faculty, and students. The committee, known as URPC, works as a conduit between the CSU main office and HSU’s administration to help address and deal with budget issues.

The URPC first addressed a charge made by Lisa Rossbacher, who was absent from the meeting. Rossbacher called for the URPC to balance the 2017-2018 budget, identify solutions to the recent drop in enrollment, and create a two-year plan for HSU’s budget. This plan is split into two phases.

Phase one will take effect this coming year and will save HSU $1 million over the next year. Phase one will draw 83 percent, or about $800,000 from personnel cuts. Phase two will not be set in stone until the end of October, this year. However, URPC has discussed areas of the university open to cuts. Possible phase 2 cuts may include: $1 million from the Instructional/academic colleges, $250,000 from Student Services, $400,000 from Administrational costs, and $400,000 from Informational Technologies.

HSU will face its eighth consecutive year of deficit spending. The deficit is expected to grow by $500,000 during the 2017-2018 year, to a staggering $6 million. In addition to a growing deficit, HSU is expected to see its second consecutive year of decreased enrollment; roughly 3.5 percent less students are expected to attend HSU during the 2017-2018 year.

Furthermore, HSU expects to be 543 students short of its expected 7,603 Full Time Equivalent Student Enrollment, set by the CSU main office. Failing to reach this threshold could result in further cuts to HSU’s funding.

The budget deficit continued to grow even as HSU’s enrollment rose during the first half of this decade. HSU simply spends too much money per student, and a solution to HSU’s budget deficit will include cuts to how much money is spent on each student’s education during their time at HSU according to URPC. HSU spent $15,810 per student during the 2015-2016 year. The average amount of money spent per student for other small CSU schools during that year was $14,339. Matching the CSU average would save HSU $5.7 million a year.

These potential budget cuts will occur during Rossbacher’s new graduation initiative. The initiative calls for a doubling of HSU’s current graduation rate by 2025. This includes bringing underrepresented minority students and student beneficiaries of the Pell Grant graduation rate to even with the rest of HSU. UPRC did not explain how Rossbacher’s graduation initiative would coincide with budget cuts that affect students.

Mark Rizzardi, faculty co-chair on the URPC, led much of Tuesday’s budget discussion. At the conclusion of the meeting Rizzardi said, “all the low hanging fruit has been picked, so it’s time to cut.”

The URPC only briefly addressed the nearly $1 million athletic department deficit, and did not discuss any possible cuts to athletics. Read The Lumberjack next week for an in-depth look into the athletics deficit and the future of HSU athletics.

*This story has been edited to fix the correct date for the meeting. From March 4 to April 4.

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