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President discusses college budget

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Searching for ways to erase the deficits of the university is something President Lesley Di Mare is striving to eliminate. Photo courtesy of morguefile.com.
On Oct. 16, President Lesley Di Mare and Colorado State University-Pueblo stakeholders met with students to explain the recent changes and budget problems at the university.

Pizza with the President was held in the OUC with administrative stakeholders such as President of CSU-Pueblo, Lesley Di Mare, Chief of Staff, Jennifer Mullen, Dean of Student Life, Bruce Gifford and Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs, Rick Kreminski.

Members of the Associated Students’ Government were present at the event along with various students from the campus.

President Di Mare began the event with a PowerPoint presentation that explained the issues that were discovered in the spring of 2012. Di Mare said, the university had not been budgeting correctly.

CSU-Pueblo, as pointed out by the PowerPoint, had key areas that caused major deficits in the university budget.
In the past year, CSU-Pueblo failed to add in mandatory operational cost to the budget.

Cost for promotion, accreditation, security, utilities and insurance, position funding restoration for the fiscal year of 2013 using a technology software that helps the university with financial services, and COP Library Payments added up to $1.6 million in cost not listed on the budget, according to Di Mare.

The lack of enforcement on behalf of the university to ensure students paid their tuition as well as the non-aggressive recruitment tactics are also to blame, said Di Mare.

In May, the Board of Directors approved an incremental budget increase for CSU-Pueblo, Di Mare said. This increase included a revenue line for $2.1 million, she added.

According to Di Mare, mistakes in the budget caused the deficit and it is now the job of the university administration to figure out how CSU-Pueblo would climb out debt.

CSU-Pueblo’s budget is created in a collaborative way that is comprised of the University Budget Board, the office of Vice President of Finance and Administration, and the President’s Cabinet, as well as students, Mullen said.

President Di Mare has charged the board with identifying ways CSU-Pueblo can reduce the budget deficit. If there are any inefficient things the university is doing, the UBB has been asked to examine them for possible cost savings, according to Mullen.

Administrators have since looked at job that overlaps within the university and collapsed those jobs into single positions, while other positions were removed completely. 12 positions were cut or collapsed from Student Activities and Enrollment Management, as shown on the PowerPoint.

President Di Mare the allowed Kramenski to further explain budget followed by Gifford who discussed enrollment adjustments.

Students were allowed to see an Excel spread sheet displaying the deficit in detail. More than $1.2 million in expense reductions occurred since January.

From the expenses cut, $470,000 equated to a one percent cut across the board from the university. More than $738,000 was saved when the positions were collapsed and cut from Student Activites and Enrollment Management. About $266,000 came from student fees or housing positions that were removed, and more than $471,000 came from enrollment and general operational funded positions that were cut.

“The $2.1 million deficit was caused primarily from loss of tuition dollars because our enrollment this fall was lower than we projected,” Mullen said.

“In the past, the administration allowed students to continue to attend school here without paying their tuition. Some students dropped this fall because they couldn’t pay their tuition, in spite of us offering to help them with payment plans,” she added.

This fall semester CSU-Pueblo had a 7.14 percent drop in full time equivalent enrollment, which refers to students who take 12 credits each semester.

Reorganization of the First Year Program office and the admission and recruitment office was important to Gifford, who felt that the two departments should combine staff in order to save money and increase recruitment efforts, Gifford said.

Six First Year Program counselors have joined the four admissions counselor in recruitment efforts in orders to maximize the amount of high schools and community colleges they reach.

At the conclusion of the presentation students asked administrators questions and made many suggestions as to what the university could improve on.

“I think the most important information for students to know is that there are many ways to address our budget deficit, and we’re examining all of them right now,” Mullen said.

“Students can be confident that we intend to solve the budget problem and that maintaining the teaching and learning experience for our students is our top priority,” she added.