Wednesday, September 03, 2003

The price of pain 

So for fourteen Fridays the university is closed this summer. Workers have to work 10-hour days to keep their salaries the same, but some do not and either burn up vacation or take unpaid leaves. Air conditioning is shut off, and faculty who do research around here (you have to think there are some, don't you) work in sweaty offices with paper that curls up in the humidity. But by golly we're going to balance the budget, we're going to make some real savings, aren't we? So how much did we save to meet our more than $3 million deficit?

At St. Cloud State, staff members who are paid by the hour took about 3,600 hours, or $67,518, of unpaid leave this summer, [Associate VP Diana] Burlison said. Administrators and managers -- who are salaried -- took about 135 days, or $33,700. Faculty members did not participate because their contract doesn't include the summer, but they will experience larger classes and heavier work loads during the year, Burlison said.

For the coming year, staff members have committed to 2,359 hours, or $40,000, in unpaid leave, Burlison said. Administrators and managers have committed to about 120 days, or about 1,000 hours.

University leaders also are looking at closing the university from Dec. 24 to Jan. 5, 2004, Burlison said.

So all of this cutting is going to create maybe $200,000 in savings, though it has created some serious problems for those who cannot take vacation and must lose income instead. So where does the big money come from?
Other cuts made by the university include keeping open 29 faculty positions that cost an average of $67,000 each, and getting rid of a $35,000 lease on Colbert House and a $12,000 lease on the tennis courts by Halenbeck Hall. Those leases won't expire until September or October.
People in Colbert are moving to excess space in other buildings and leasing tennis courts over the winter in Minnesota is not a very profitable activity. That alone was worth at least six closed Fridays, though some savings are showing up in that $40,000 of lost staff time during the school year. All the while we've increased tuition 15% and are offering fewer courses. Meanwhile, according to information gathered in the St. Cloud Times article linked above, Northern Iowa has balanced by cutting back on grounds maintenance and holding open positions lost through retirement and resignations; Cal State San Bernardino is freezing half their openings (and raising fees 30%) and Western Illinois is making similar cuts to us. Lots of pain facing state universities this fall.