FAQ - 2018-2019 Budget
In recognition of the vital roles that our faculty and staff play, both on campus and throughout SUNY, the state negotiated contracts this year that provide significant raises for our United University Professions (UUP) represented personnel, consistent with raises our CSEA and PEF personnel received last year. All of these raises are well-deserved and long overdue, and help make our campus more competitive in terms of recruiting and retaining the best faculty and staff.
At the same time, these raises will have an impact on the University's budget, as New York State has not appropriated funds to cover the costs of the negotiated increases. SUNY has indicated that its individual colleges and universities will have to cover these costs out of their own budgets and reserves. Because the contract will increase salaries retroactively, this means that Binghamton University will have to absorb over $12 million in the 2018−19 fiscal year, with an ongoing cost of over $4 million in following years.
Fortunately, Binghamton has been preparing for fiscal challenges ever since the recession of 2008, and for the past few years in anticipation of the negotiated contracts, holding in reserve a portion of our operational funds and planning for growing enrollments. This gives us some flexibility in meeting these costs, but without additional revenues from increased enrollments, particularly at the graduate level, moderate tuition increases and modest budget reductions across campus, it is not a long-term solution.
Below are a sampling of questions we've received. Our answers will better help you
understand this complex situation. If you have a question, contact one of us.
Harvey G. Stenger
President, Binghamton University
Donald G. Nieman
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Were other SUNY schools given this raise requirement?
Yes, this is a SUNY-wide labor agreement. It covers UUP members, who are employed at SUNY's 29 state-operated campuses, including SUNY's public teaching hospitals and health science centers.
Doesn't the state of New York typically cover the costs of the raises that are added as a result of contract negotiations with UUP?
Sometimes the state covers the cost of the raises, and sometimes it doesn't. The state did not cover the raises included in the previous contract, which ran from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2016, but it did cover the raises included in the one before that – July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2011. It was unclear whether the raises included in the current contract would be covered. As a result, we developed a plan to increase revenue by growing enrollment. We were successful in generating some additional revenue to help us cover the raises, but we fell short of the amount we needed to close the gap.
What will the total dollar amount of the raises be this year?
The retroactive raises this year will amount to $20 million ($8 retroactive and $12 base), but we are still awaiting additional details from the state.
What are Binghamton University's options for covering the retroactive raises?
At this time, we are preparing to cover retroactive raises with University reserves.
Why was this problem not identified at the State of the University address?
At the time of the State of the University report, we were still determining the revenue that would be generated from our enrollment. What we did know at that date was that our enrollment was 17,720 and it had grown by 154 graduate students (3591 to 3745) and by 318 undergraduate students (13,657 to 13,975). Our target was to grow by 350 graduate students and by 150 undergraduate students with a 2 to 1 ratio of out of state students to in state students. Until we had time to calculate all the various tuition rates (in state, out of state, full time, part time, graduate and undergraduate), we felt we would be short, but not by how much. The surprisingly high number of $5M short, meant that our estimates for the revenue from each student category fell short. We will be working to refine our model as we enter the coming admissions season.
In the State of the University supplementary materials, it states that the $4 million yearly increase will also be supplemented through "moderate increases in tuition and student fees." How much will they increase by?
The SUNY Board of Trustees is expected to approve a $200 per-year tuition increase for students who are not part of the Excelsior Scholarship Program.
Increases in fees are not a way that we are planning to address budget challenges. Our fee increases are always small and cannot exceed the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI), an index of inflation in higher education. The less than 2 percent increase simply allows us to maintain the purchasing power of our fees.
What does the hiring hold mean for efforts to increase graduate enrollment? Will this continue throughout the spring and next year?
The hold on hiring means that we have to be more aggressive in our efforts to increase graduate enrollment because that's one of the principal opportunities to generate new revenue. The hold will continue for the remainder of this academic year. We will re-evaluate where things stand in fall 2019.
With Road Map initiatives being delayed, will construction cease on the Health Sciences Campus in Johnson City and the Hinman College renovations?
No. Capital projects are funded from separate funds we receive from the state. Even if we wanted to use those funds to offset our shortfall, we can't. They are dedicated to specific construction or renovation projects. That's something that's always hard to understand when we have to cut operating funds but can still go ahead with construction projects.
The renovated nursing building in Johnson City will help us grow programs in the health sciences and therefore increase enrollment and revenue, so it will help us solve our problem in the medium term. However, for the time being, programming around physical and occupational therapies will be delayed.
What alternate revenue options is Binghamton University looking into?
First and foremost, we will continue to increase graduate enrollment, something we were very successful in doing between 2012 and 2016. That is consistent with our strategic plan for growth and is a realistic source of revenue growth. We are also seeking to expand enrollments in online programs. The Decker School of Nursing has a proposal to offer its RN-BS program and all of its graduate programs online. This offers the campus the opportunity to reach markets we wouldn't otherwise reach and thereby increase revenue. We will look at a variety of other ways to expand the number of online programs we offer.
We also expect that the SUNY Board of Trustees will approve another modest tuition increase of $200/year, which would help, although not solve the problem. Finally, we continue to work to return out-of-state and international enrollments to the levels they were several years ago, before they began to decline because out-of-state tuition increased by 10 percent per year, compounded, for five years.
What are other long-term solutions being considered to help pay the $4 million a year?
Other solutions include private fundraising. We have steadily increased private giving, and are now raising close to $15 million per year to support programs on campus. We hope to see this figure grow as we are currently in the silent phase of a comprehensive, private-giving campaign. Philanthropy enables us to promote excellence that we wouldn't otherwise be able to. For example, it helps provide scholarships to students; support faculty, teaching and scholarship; and create exciting new programs like our Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention.
We will also continue to be aggressive in attracting external support for research, which helps us build research infrastructure and support faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. But our biggest source of revenue is tuition. We will work aggressively to increase that revenue by increasing graduate enrollment.
Hiring exception questions:
Do I need to apply for an exception to hire or renew an adjunct appointment?
No, new adjunct and adjunct renewals do not fall under this process
Do I need to apply for an exception to renew an existing Lecturer?
No, lecturer renewals do not fall under this process
Do I need to apply for an exception to renew an existing professional employee?
No, professional renewals do not fall under this process
Do I need to apply for an exception to extend an existing temporary employee?
No, temporary extensions do not fall under this process, but still requires HR approval since temporary appointments have certain rules
Do I need to apply for an exception to hire a new temporary classified or professional employee?
Yes, any new classified or professional position regardless of status would require this process