September 6, 2011
To the Baruch College Community:
Recently, the CUNY budget office provided the colleges with their Operating Budget Allocations for the current fiscal year (July 2011-June 2012). Thanks to the recent agreement between the Governor and the NY State Legislature, the University now has a five-year budget plan with predictable revenue sources and a “Maintenance of Effort” commitment that can only be breached if the state declares a fiscal emergency. Considering that this has not happened during these tumultuous economic times, we take some comfort in this five-year pledge not to reduce financial support from the prior year's level. The Legislature also agreed to allocate new tuition dollars collected by CUNY back to the University, rather than retaining them in the state's general accounts. Now, when a student pays additional tuition, that money stays at the University for investment in education.
This year's budget story is clearly better than last year's, but it is also complicated. The state continues to expect CUNY and Baruch to implement the budget cuts announced earlier, based on the reduction in direct state assistance to CUNY (and SUNY). For Baruch, these cuts amount to approximately $1.6 million. Fortunately, however, the cuts will be offset by approximately $1 million in enhanced revenue that is a result of the $300 increase in undergraduate, in-state tuition, which was approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees. Chancellor Goldstein and the CUNY leadership have determined that these new funds will be used to invest in the campuses. We therefore expect to gain eight full-time faculty positions, as well as additional resources for student support services and other targeted college priorities.
The CUNY Board also approved an increase in tuition for the Masters in Public Administration as well as academic fees for all Masters programs at the College. The “differential tuition” for the MPA program in the School of Public Affairs (which we also have for the MBA program in the Zicklin School) and the academic fees will generate an additional $3.5 million, which will be used to support the academic programs that generate the new revenue—enabling us to invest in our graduate programs and avoid stagnation.
We recognize the hardship for many students caused by any increase in the cost of education. The situation this year was made particularly confusing and difficult by the fact that a lawsuit brought against CUNY forced the University to reconvene the Board of Trustees in a special session late in the summer in order to re-approve the tuition increase. This, in turn, forced a delay in the issuance of fall semester bills. Hopefully, however, these problems are now behind us, and students and their families can undertake predictable, rational planning over a multi-year period. It also remains the case that the cost of a Baruch College education is still one of the best higher education values in the United States. In fact, our MBA program was recently ranked #1 in value upon graduation by U.S. News & World Report; and Baruch College is rated among the nation's “Best College Buys,” according to Forbes Magazine.
The College plans to allocate an additional $1.5 million from the CUNY Tuition Reserve Account (CUTRA), which is maintained by CUNY for the College. Portions of these funds will be made available to all units at Baruch to further support their important work. Even after allocating these reserve funds, we anticipate that there will still be sufficient CUTRA funds remaining that we can infuse a similar amount into next year's budget, thereby ensuring that any gains this year will persist at least for a second year.
While we will be in a stronger position for the remainder of this fiscal year, and into the next, we are not totally out of the financial woods yet. It is fair to say, however, that we are on the path to recovery. Our improved financial position will enable us to hire new faculty this year. We can also restore some of the cuts made previously and invest strategically in some new activities.
Combining the impact of all the cuts and new revenues outlined above, each major unit in the College will see an increase in its FY2012 budget over the FY2011 budget; with the largest proportional increases experienced by our three Schools and direct student services units. Considering the budget situation that we faced last year, this year's picture is an improvement. Unfortunately, we still have to make tough choices—the most obvious of which is the increased tuition cost to students.
I will continue, as has been my practice, to be transparent in my communications about our operating budget and overall financial situation. I encourage you to share your ideas on how we can maintain and improve the quality of our services. Feel free to take advantage of my Friday office hours or drop me, the Provost or your Dean a note.
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