Committees & DTFs

Questions about Budget

Role of the Agenda Committee

( From Budget Information Packet handed out at the Faculty Retreat 2002)

Thank you for sending us questions about the budget and the budget process. Amy Cook and I sorted through the questions and placed them into general question areas as a way of identifying the type of information we need to gather. In general, faculty seemed to be interested in seven types of questions:

  1. What are the costs of educating students in different parts of academic division?
  2. Clarification of other college costs
  3. Where do the dollars come from and where do they go?
  4. What criteria determine the amount of money we get? Who decides where the money goes?
  5. What does the faculty do with the resources available? How has that changed over time?
  6. Clarification of recent history (i.e. what happened last year with the budget process?)
  7. Conceptual questions

In going through the questions we discovered that we would need more time to answer them than we had before the information packet went to the printer. Our current plan is to set up this website as a forum for addressing these questions. Each week I will work on finding and adding information for these questions, guided by the more specific questions you posed, as a way to begin painting a picture about what the budget is and how the budgetary decisions are made at the college. The website can be a place where we continue to pose and address questions.

To see the more specific questions people asked, read on…

Sonja

What are the costs of educating students in different parts of academic division?

  • We know that it costs more money to educate students in the arts and in the sciences than in the humanities and social sciences. How much more? (This question is not designed to criticize the arts and science programs as "expensive," merely to let us know the relative costs.)
  • What are the comparative costs of educating students in the full-time undergraduate program, Evening and Weekend Studies program, the Tacoma program, the tribal based program, and the graduate programs?
  • I have heard that the evening and weekend studies program costs evergreen more money than it brings in to the college. Is this true? To this degree, how do expenditures versus income/fte compare between the Olympia day program, Olympia E/W program and Tacoma?
  • I'd like to know the costs of the intercollegiate athletics program and how they've changed over the last ten years.

Clarification of other college costs

  • What is the trend of spending in the president's office over the last 10 years (i.e., president's budget on the y-axis versus time on the x-axis)?

Where do the dollars come from and where do they go?

  • We keep hearing from the administration that we need to access other sources of money. How much money is brought into the college in the form of indirect costs on grants? Which units of the college bring in this money? What is the college doing to increase this source of money? I note that the college recently re-negotiated their indirect cost rate downward from 60% to 55% of salaries.
  • In each of the programs (i.e. arts and in the sciences than in the humanities and social sciences) what proportion of the expenses are covered by tuition? What proportion do we expect to be covered by tuition?
  • I'd like some rough estimate of the percentage changes (if any) over the last ten years or so in the way the academic budget is divided between faculty salaries and direct support and third floor administrative costs.
  • How does the College as a whole manage the subsidy from the State, when it is clear that the subsidy is supposed to recognize that different types of programs historically drew differential subsidies, e.g. more subsidy for upper division compared to lower division, more subsidy for graduate students compared to undergraduates, etc. I.e. how does the College "track" the subsidy in the allocation from the General Fund so that the disproportionate amounts get to their intended places?

What criteria determine the amount of money we get? Who decides where the money goes?

  • Is the expectation of what tuition is supposed to pay for set internally at the College or does the College work on a target set by the State?
  • What proportion of the expenses for educating a student are expected to be covered by tuition?
  • I'd like to know the current constraints on redistributing funds from areas like facilities and maintenance and athletics to other areas like library and direct academic support.
  • What diversity of student clientele is needed to ensure that the College makes the target enrollment agreed with the State? (i.e. what mix of undergraduate-graduate, on campus-off campus programs do we need for enrollment security?)
  • Who prioritizes discretionary spending?
  • What options does the College have in terms of managing the student/faculty ratio? If $ from State stay same or go down, what do we do if target enrollment stays same or goes up?

What does the faculty do with the resources available? How has that changed over time?

  • It would be useful to have some inter-institutional comparisons. For example, the Salary DTF a few years ago published a comparison of our faculty's salary level(s) to other state-selected peer institutions (and to state-set goals for comparative salary levels). That's never been updated in a public way. It would be useful to have that done.
  • Complementing this, it would be useful to compare our faculty's "productivity" (however that is measured in its standard forms) to other faculties' productivity. (And I would be intrigued to know how we continue to claim that our student/faculty ratio is 20/1 when our experience says it has been bumped up.)
  • Also, it might be useful to have a comparison of our staff's salary level(s) and, perhaps, a comparison of our relative level of staff support for faculty and students to other institutions' level of staff support for faculty and students.

And if there's any way to put this into a historical picture, all to the better.

  • Beyond that, it would be helpful to know what other institutions are doing. We all, I suspect, hear about the remarkable raises that go to some faculty at the larger schools (and I don't hear about compensating reductions to other faculty) despite the fact that they are constrained by the same sort of budgetary policies. How do they do it?
  • How many faculty lines have been lost in the last 5 years? A graph showing the total number of students versus the total number of faculty over the last 5 or ten years would be interesting. Have we really inflated the expected fte student load faculty carry?

Clarification of recent history

  • How was discretionary spending prioritized last year? How much was actually spent? Where did the money come from? Were there "internal reallocations" made for that spending that impacted other divisions? What kind of internal reallocations in favor of academics could be made with that kind of money in the future?
  • If the College budget really goes in the dump (i.e. down more than about 2%), can we avoid RIFing faculty and staff? If we RIF faculty, can the College still make its enrollment target with the faculty who remain?
  • Who is the President’s Budget Council (PBC)? Who will decide if the PBC gets to do the things the document says it "should" do? Would there be any oversight of PBC? I ask because it seems to me that any body that is"…empowered to deliberate over … budget cuts within and across divisions, including the possibility of disproportionate cuts within and across divisions … [as well as any necessary] ... college reorganization for fiscal efficiency…" will have complete political control of the college.
  • What is the low-down on the food services contract? Can this be re-negotiated? Or, have we locked ourselves into the current prioritization of organic salads over academics?
  • What was our total budget decrease last year. Note: decrease means negative change in total money from the state and tuition, before the internal reallocation to food services and web page.

Generating ideas

  • What options does the College have in terms of managing the student/faculty ratio? If $ from State stay same or go down, what do we do if target enrollment stays same or goes up?
  • How can we best connect the two issues: management of $ and management of target enrollments?