Hammond Yells How FHSU Will Deal with Latest Budget Cut, Ease Tuition Impact and Boost Local Economy
Fort Hayes State University - July 03, 2009
HAYS, Kan. -- President Edward H. Hammond said today that Fort Hays State University would use its nearly $2.8 million share of federal stimulus money to provide tuition relief and to stimulate the Ellis County economy by supporting deferred maintenance projects.
He also explained how FHSU would absorb the latest 2-percent cut in funding that Gov. Mark Parkinson announced Thursday morning in Topeka.
As the state of Kansas has struggled since last fall with declining revenues, universities in the Kansas Board of Regents system first had to reduce their budgets during the 2009 fiscal year, which ended on Tuesday (June 30), and then had to make further cuts in their base budgets for the new fiscal year that began on Wednesday. A cut of 10 percent and another 2 percent in unfunded mandates (university expenditures required but not funded by the state) originally caused a 12-percent reduction in FHSU's FY2010 budget. The additional cut announced Thursday brings the total impact to 14 percent.
"We will be able to cover the additional 2-percent cut, which totals $678,000, with one-time strategic planning money," President Hammond said during a morning news conference on the FHSU campus. "Just as we used strategic planning money to cover the rescissions in the FY2009 budget, we will use that budget line again this year to protect the operating budgets of our academic departments and support offices."
By using money that was budgeted in the strategic planning process for action plans, the university will again have to postpone some innovations and new initiatives, but it will avoid making further cuts in department operating budgets that are needed to implement the efficiencies-and-growth budget model.
The Friday morning news conference was unusual because it falls on an official state holiday. "These are unusual and difficult times and I knew the FHSU family and the local community would be anxious to hear how the latest cut announced on Thursday by the governor would affect the university. I did not want to wait until after the Fourth of July holiday to explain our response," the president said.
Dr. Hammond also used the news conference to announce programs and projects that will be funded with the $2,786,646 in federal stimulus money that FHSU will receive.
"Two of the planning principles we've been following since this financial crisis began last fall are to keep costs down for students and to minimize negative financial impacts on the local community," he said. "We are creating a Tuition Incentive Program, or TIP, that will reward our current students' good academic performance by greatly reducing the tuition hike that was recently announced. We are creating the Stressed Kansans Scholarship Program for workers who have lost their jobs and want to return to school. Also, we will commit a major share of the stimulus money into deferred maintenance projects, which will preserve and enhance segments of the university's infrastructure while also stimulating the local economy by creating jobs and increasing the demand for goods and services."
Out of the nearly $2.8 million in stimulus money, more than a half-million dollars will be used for tuition relief in these special FHSU programs for in-state students:
The lion's share, more than 80 percent, of FHSU's stimulus money -- $2,200,646 -- will be used for deferred maintenance projects:
In addition to tuition and deferred maintenance, the president said $50,000 of the stimulus money would be used to replace outdated computers for faculty. That is one of the expenditures usually covered with strategic planning money.
"The deferred maintenance projects are not glamorous," the president said, "but as Dana Cunningham, our director of Facilities Planning, puts it, 'We don't see these things, but we need them.'"
Finally, President Hammond used the news conference to provide a status report on changes in operations during the summer term that were designed to produce savings in energy costs. "We replaced most but not all of our on-campus classes with Virtual College classes, and we moved to a four-day work schedule of 10-hour days that allows us to shut down air conditioning in nearly all the campus building from Friday through Sunday," he said. "By providing the convenience of virtual classes while maintaining about 30 essential on-campus classes, we have actually seen an increase in enrollment. We are only about halfway through the summer term and we had students enrolled in 16,068 credit hours as of this Wednesday, compared to only 15,986 credit hours for the entire summer term a year ago."
He said that even with the increase in enrollment, FHSU had seen a significant reduction in energy consumption this summer thanks to the changes in operations and other energy-saving efforts by university personnel. "Our electricity usage in June was 1,125,280 kwh, a decrease of more than 27 percent from the average of 1,551,000 kwh in June during the three previous summers," the president said.
"As you can see, our efficiencies-and-growth budget model is working," President Hammond concluded. "But, we cannot absorb further cuts to our budget without it significantly harming the education and other services we provide to Kansans."