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Syracuse University Senate votes to approve proposal for 2003-04 budget
Syracuse University Senate votes to approve proposal for 2003-04 budgetJanuary 16, 2003Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
The University Senate of Syracuse University voted today to approve a proposed budget that slows salary increases from 3.5 percent to 3 percent annually and freezes general operating budgets for supplies, travel, telephone and computer equipment and similar expenditures. The fiscal year 2003-04 budget also includes a 6 percent undergraduate tuition increase and raises graduate tuition by 8.2 percent.
“We are pleased to report that the budget plan complies with the Board of Trustees’ guidelines for balancing the budget over the next five years, thus assuring greater financial stability,” says Patricia Longstaff, associate professor of public communications and chair of the University Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Affairs. The challenges facing the University – including reduced endowment earnings and uncertain economic and enrollment forecasts – required the budget committee’s two undergraduate students, one graduate student, six SU staff members and 10 faculty members to “work extraordinarily hard to reach an appropriate compromise” in the recommendations approved by the Senate, says Longstaff.
Today’s vote paves the way for Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw to present the proposed budget to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees in early February. Once the Executive Committee approves the proposal, the full Board will vote on the budget at its May meeting.
Undergraduate, graduate costs and spending grow
According to the proposal approved by the Senate, Syracuse’s undergraduate tuition will remain well below that of most major private universities, despite the 6 percent increase called for in the five-year budget plan approved last year. Undergraduate students will pay $24,170 in tuition; the most readily available room choice will cost students $5,190 per year, a 4 percent increase; meal plan costs will increase by 4 percent, to $4,700 for the 19 meal per week plan favored by many resident students.
The budget also calls for the elimination of separate fees for resident students’ communications services, a move that will lower most students’ media expenses without affecting the University’s bottom line. Students in SU residence halls currently pay more than $500 in separate fees each academic year if they opt for popular services including high-speed network service, telephone line, voice mail, and cable television. A mandatory, all-inclusive fee of about $300 per year will replace the separate fee system.
Graduate students’ tuition will increase by 8.2 percent instead of 6 percent, in order to bring the cost per credit hour closer to that of undergraduates; the revenue generated by the extra 2.2 percent increase will be directed back into graduate education programs. This spending may include pay increases for graduate assistants in selected fields and increased support for fellowships.
Operating budgets frozen, salary growth slows
The budget calls for a three-year moratorium on increases to general operating budgets covering non-personnel costs, after which annual 1.5 percent increases can resume. The move is expected to save the University $500,000 next year, and the budget committee forecasts that the freeze should not cause major problems for the University. This is because the operating budget freeze will be offset in part by relatively low levels of inflation and flat or decreasing costs for items like computers and telephones.
With regard to faculty and staff salaries, the Senate approved the committee’s plan to slow the annual rate of increase to 3 percent, down from 3.5 percent. The change will lop $1.1 million off the $2.4 million budget deficit forecast for 2003-04, and the budget proposal instructs the University to “place faculty salaries among the highest priorities for additional funding” when such funding becomes available. The Senate vote reaffirms the multi-year budget plan’s $850,000 add-on in 2003-04 for faculty development funds – used to better recruit, compensate, and retain faculty in certain areas – and suggests greater future additions to the funds if possible.
Increased fundraising spending, other highlights
Other highlights of the proposed 2003-04 budget:
- The budget committee, satisfied with the Institutional Advancement division’s case for additional staff and resources to execute the next major capital campaign, approved a budget add-on of $500,000 for that purpose and requested that schools and colleges reallocate an additional $300,000 to pay salaries and expenses for new school/college development staff positions.
- The budget includes a $200,000 increase in regulatory compliance spending, necessitated by the recent enacting of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The committee also revised its health care cost forecasts, lowering the predicted 2003-04 inflationary increase by $400,000.
- The planned closure of the School of Nursing did not affect University budget planning for 2003-04; the closure is expected to free up about $1 million, but that money is targeted for reallocation to other academic units.
Officially chartered in 1870 as a private, coeducational institution of higher education, Syracuse University is a leading student-centered research university. Syracuse’s 11 schools and colleges share a common mission: to promote learning through teaching, research, scholarship, creative accomplishment and service while embracing the core values of quality, caring, diversity, innovation and service. The 680-acre campus is home to more than 18,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and 90 countries.