TCNJ, Higher Education Face Major Budget Cuts
The College of New Jersey and all state institutions of higher education are presently facing monumental cuts in state support, which would have an enormous impact on TCNJ and all New Jersey colleges and universities. Throughout this spring, I have joined other representatives of New Jersey higher education to advocate for the restoration of state funding. While I admire the forthrightness of Governor Corzine's approach to the budget problems of our state, I am deeply concerned about the ramifications of his recommended cuts to higher education. The governor's proposed state budget would:
- Reduce higher education funding by approximately $300 million overall
- Slash support for TCNJ's operating budget by 32 percent (more than $12 million)
- Cut TCNJ’s base appropriation by $4 million
- Provide no funding for the salary program increases negotiated by the state (over $3.5 million impact for TCNJ)
- Eliminate roughly $3.1 million in funding for TCNJ's employee fringe benefit costs, which are mandated by state-negotiated contracts
- Phase out the Outstanding Scholar Recruitment Program (no state funding for the students entering in the fall), which will exacerbate our state’s enormous brain drain problem by sending many of New Jersey’s best and brightest out of state for college and, ultimately, their professional careers. We hope that the state will meet its obligation to the incoming freshman class, but TCNJ will fund four years of the awards (a cost of $1.5 million in year one) for those students if it does not.
- Eliminate the Governor’s School for the Arts, which provides needed summer revenue to TCNJ and serves as a vital student recruitment tool
R. Barbara Gitenstein President The College of New Jersey
Impact on TCNJ
Under the budget plan proposed by Governor Jon Corzine, The College of New Jersey would lose approximately 32 percent of its state funding, creating an enormous budget shortfall. Since the governor made his proposal in late March, we have been working diligently on two fronts—advocating strongly for the restoration of higher education funding and examining ways to deal with such a monumental deficit should the governor’s proposal become a reality. If no significant restoration occurs, we will be faced with many difficult decisions and sacrifices will need to be made throughout campus.
All areas of the College’s finances are being explored, including personnel, facilities, programs, and services. The Committee on Planning and Priorities’ Budget Response Principles, which were shared publicly and embraced by the Board of Trustees at its April 25 meeting, will serve as a guideline for all decisions. In order of importance, those principles are:
- Preserve the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors
- Preserve the integrity and excellence of our academic programs
- Preserve the institutional integrity of the College, including our obligations to staff, faculty, and students (e.g., scholarships)
Below are just a few examples of significant cost-saving initiatives that are either current or were completed in the recent past:
- The college has focused its efforts on holding positions that are vacant through attrition by consolidating operations, reorganizing and reassigning responsibilities.
- In recent years, the College has been able to realize a savings of over $2 million through "freezing" or eliminating some positions as they become vacant. While this process has been successful in response to the budget cuts of the last four years, there are fewer opportunities for such administrative consolidation than there were in years past.
- We will, however, continue this practice by carefully examining the absolute necessity of each position as it becomes vacant. At present, we are anticipating an additional $800,000 in savings as a result of this effort.
- On June 13, 2006, TCNJ's Board of Trustees will consider a resolution allowing for a week's closure of the College. All TCNJ employees, except for a very limited number of campus safety personnel, would be placed on leave without pay for that period. The resulting savings for the College, once salary costs and utility savings are aggregated, would be at least $1.3 million. This, however, would come at no small hardship to our faculty, staff, and administrators, all of whom would be personally affected. Click here for answers to frequently asked questions about the proposed January closure.
- Salary increases for the College’s non-unit personnel in the higher ranges will be deferred until we assured of financial resources. Those members of the campus community who will be affected have already been directly apprised of this measure, which requires further sacrifice on their parts.
- We are modifying the compensation and waiver process for graduate assistants while reducing the number of those positions.
Non-Salary Budget Items
- For the past 7 years, all departments have gone without any increases in non-salary budget lines. Unless there is significant funding restoration, we will be forced to cut departmental allocations and programs for fiscal 2007.
- We have saved over $600,000 in recent years through the re-negotiation and re-bidding of current and new contracts, and will continue to look for savings through re-negotiated contracts.
- We will defer expenditures in areas that will not result in long-range damage to the College.
- The College's investment in information resources will be decreased.
- If we are forced to cover the state’s obligation for our in-coming OSRP students, we will use reserves rather than depend on additional revenue through tuition or fees.
Fuel and Utilities
- Through construction of a cogeneration plant, implementation of an energy conservation plan, and the purchase of energy futures contracts, the College has reduced energy costs by $3.5 million per year for several years.
- The College has implemented energy conservation and natural gas utility hedge programs with a projected savings of $152,000.
- The College will transfer the payments for the Cogeneration Plant from operating budget to capital reserves with a projected savings of $675,000.
- Phase 1B of the Student Administration Project, which was to be funded through reserves, will be delayed. This project will replace current administrative technology applications with improved versions. Phase 1A, which includes admissions, records and academic advisement modules, will continue on its existing implementation schedule. Phase 1B—the student financial aid component of this initiative—will be postponed.
- The College has reduced the number of maintenance and renovation projects for fiscal 2007 with a projected savings of $400,000.
- As a result of an extensive program review conducted in accordance with established procedures for program closure, which determined that the Child Care Center was not a cost-effective enterprise, the Board of Trustees will vote at its July meeting to close the Child Care Center as of August.
- Selected master’s programs will also be closed (for formal Board notification in October).
- The Foundation Board has increased its commitment by $500,000 to offset the cost of scholarships.
- We have increased enrollment projections for the fall semester (50 additional in-coming freshman and 60 additional transfer students are expected).
- We will propose some fees to offset costs for specific programs.
- There will be increases to tuition and related fees.