By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
The Board of Trustees passed the university’s budget for the 2004-05 fiscal year, finalizing the list of 60 budget moves that the administration hopes will close a projected $5 million deficit.
The approval gives the final go-ahead for plans that include eliminating the Department of Academic Advance and the Learning Enhancement Center, as well as reducing faculty and staff positions by about 30.
“We will try to clarify that the plan for the most part is in its original form” in a likely meeting with all faculty and staff next week, said Vice President of Finance Phil Schubert.
The budget will go into effect June 1, but plans already are being implemented, Schubert said.
“We’ve got so many things related to implementation,” he said. “There are elements of the budget that need implementation immediately.”
The budget includes a change to employee retirement benefits that prompted a letter of concern from the Faculty Senate.
The plan reduces by as much as 6 percent the total contribution to employees’ retirement accounts but allows current employees the option of continuing to receive a 12 percent contribution.
“The letter wasn’t sent out to create a groundswell that says, ‘No, we don’t want this,'” said Dr. Joe Cardot, chair of the Senate. “We wanted to make sure people are informed.”
The letter raised three points, among them that the university’s retirement plan has long been much better than comparable businesses’ because faculty salaries have been 15 percent lower than average.
Schubert said the issue no longer is as big a concern-faculty salaries are 98 percent of the average, or 2 percent below the national mean.
The plan’s decision to give current employees a 2 percent raise in their base pay with the option of contributing it to make up the rest of the 12 percent also drew concern, the letter said.
“Current and future employees with young families may find themselves in the difficult position of sacrificing future retirement for immediate financial needs,” it said.
Schubert said he would try to meet with the Senate Tuesday, adding that the cocnern probably was over miscommunication.
“We are trying to get together with the Senate to address any communication issues,” he said