Is Binghamton University in financial trouble?
Binghamton University has weathered state budget difficulties in the past and has always done so by making decisions that support its mission to provide high-quality education to its students.
To enable these decisions, the University made strategic choices in past years to set aside reserves to cover budget cuts assigned to the campus which many times occur on short notice. In 2017-18, the University learned of the negotiated salary increases that would impact SUNY budgets for the 2018-19 and following academic years. Fortunately, New York state contributed one-time funds to cover part of the retroactive raises but could not provide continuous support to meet the shortfall for future years. The University used some of its reserve funds last year to pay for a portion of the retroactive raises that resulted from the contract increases. However, these funds are not sufficient to cover the raises moving forward. Note that about 90% of the University’s state budget is to cover salaries.
In addition, for the past seven years, deans and schools have been asked to increase their graduate enrollments to help meet the goals of our strategic plan, as well as to grow revenues that would help us manage state budget decisions.
Does the University have a new budget process?
As a result of the budget shortage (described above), in the fall of 2018 a new University budget process was instituted. This new process requires that each of our eight divisions (student affairs, research, foundation, advancement, diversity, academic affairs, athletics and operations) must determine how they will cover their employees’ salary increases.
To meet the salary increases in the Division of Academic Affairs, college and school deans were made aware in the spring semester of 2019 that the allocations in their base budgets would be decreased for the 2019-20 academic year. At the same time, the school and college deans were made aware that these reduced allocations would be restored if a school/college met its graduate student tuition attributed revenue. The target was set as the average of their graduate student tuition attributed revenues for the past three years. They were also made aware that if they exceeded their target, they would receive 100% of the overage in one-time funds.
In addition to making each division responsible for its salary increases and providing incentives for growing graduate tuition revenue, the University will continue to review all hiring requests, including replacement hires. This hiring approval process is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
Does the future look brighter?
As of October 1, 2019, it is not yet known if the targets have been met for the current academic year. Tuition revenues for fall 2019 are still being analyzed and spring tuition revenues will not be known until the early part of the spring semester. However, we will make an estimate of spring tuition after we have an accurate value for the fall semester and make refunded allocations before the spring semester begins.
We can say that as of October 1, 2019, graduate tuition revenue estimates show that most colleges and schools are making good progress toward meeting their targets.
What is PRODiG?
In February 2019, SUNY released a request for proposals for PRODiG (Promoting Recruitment, Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion and Growth). The goal of this program is to increase, over the next decade, the representation of historically underrepresented faculty across all SUNY institutions through the hiring of 1,000 faculty members who are underrepresented minorities (URM) or women in STEM fields (WSTEM). These hires will expand pipelines into academic careers for talented, high-achieving URM and WSTEM students.
SUNY will provide faculty salary grants and programming to support campus goals to diversify their faculty ranks as well as attract and retain graduate students. Where other groups are underrepresented in a field due to the persistence of barriers to social and economic mobility, efforts to address this underrepresentation will receive consideration for PRODiG funding as well.
In July 2019, Binghamton University submitted its proposal and requested PRODiG initiative funding for:
- Cluster hiring of three faculty members in the “Critical Studies in Race, Ethnicity and Inequality” area;
- PRODiG salary support for four recent and/or impending faculty hires that are URM and/or WSTEM;
- hiring of up to two current URM/WSTEM postdoctoral fellows; and
- an innovative request to utilize PRODiG funding for a postdoc-to-tenure-track faculty position.
Binghamton University has received approval to move forward with the hiring of tenure-track faculty. SUNY PRODiG will support the hires of historically underrepresented minorities and women in the STEM fields who have a start date before June 30, 2020. The additional requests to PRODiG are still pending.
What is happening with the SUNY Faculty Diversity Program?
We are uncertain how the PRODiG program will overlap with or supplant SUNY’s Faculty Diversity Program (FDP) that has provided state-operated campuses with a percentage of faculty salaries for three years for individuals from different backgrounds, including those from groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education. The campus is awaiting additional information from SUNY about the FDP.
Where can I learn about construction projects on campus?
Physical Facilities maintains a constant schedule of renovations to buildings and other areas of the main campus, the University Downtown Center in Binghamton and the Health Sciences Campus in Johnson City. Updates on major projects are made every few weeks on the Construction News website, but, not surprisingly, some projects that affect day-to-day operations can pop up, and some projects move faster than the webpage can be updated.
To keep the campus informed of the day-to-day and longer-term projects and their impacts, Physical Facilities provides information on an almost daily basis to Dateline and B-Line. Whether it’s a crane being placed, sidewalks being disrupted, roadways being blocked or storm line inspections, the information is posted to Dateline and B-Line, most often under the General section. Dateline and B-Line can be found online at binghamton.edu/dateline and binghamton.edu/b-line, respectively.
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