FY16 Budget Reductions Continue

Graphic by Vicky Smith

Vicky Smith
Managing Editor
@pinkwritinglady

For the current fiscal year, FY16, the State of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE) have reduced Cameron University’s budget allocation by a total of $2,772,010.

Cameron President John McArthur said all the Oklahoma higher education institutions have received reductions in their state-funded allocations.

“The legislature assigns an amount of money in a lump sum to the state regents,” he said. “Then, the state regents give a portion of that to each of the 25 institutions in the state.”

McArthur said the amount of money given to each institution depends on the type of institution and its enrollment.

“Community colleges get a bigger share than regional universities,” he said, “and regional universities get a bigger share than the research schools.”

According to McArthur, a significant amount of the higher education funding comes directly to the state regents through oil and gas tax collections.

Cameron’s most recent budget reduction on March 10 was a direct result of the oil and gas tax revenue decline.

“That was about a $120,000 [return],” he said. “That amount of money will be prorated each month from now till the end of June, so basically about $30,000 a month less will come into Cameron than would have come in otherwise.”

McArthur said for earlier reductions, he implemented a hiring “chill,” reduced out-of-state travel and decreased supplies and materials budgets for each campus unit.

To adjust the university to the most reduction, however, he said he will access the institutional reserves rather than reduce services in the middle of the spring semester.

“It’s a strong suggestion that we keep 8.33 percent of our budget … on reserve in case we have an emergency during the year,” he said. “That means we hold about four million dollars a year back in case we have a fiscal emergency. So, for any cuts from now till the end of the year, we will take them out of that reserve.”

Concerning the upcoming summer semester, McArthur said the bulk of classes offered will be those that have the broadest campus appeal.

“We’ll continue to have a few electives, and we’ll have some graduate classes offered,” he said, “[but] our emphasis for summer school this year will be on developmental education classes that students need – so they can be fully college ready for the fall – and on general education classes.”

For students who are enrolled in summer courses, McArthur said they can expect to see changes taking place on campus.

“Most of our summer will be spent preparing for next year,” he said. “Our next fiscal year, [which is FY17,] starts July 1, 2016, so we are making our best plans for managing costs and revenue in response to state revenue shortfalls.

“A visible change that will occur will be the moving of departments and offices around campus to reflect our updated organization structure. … Some departments will be in different buildings.”

According to McArthur, if students would like to help the university’s financial situation, the number one thing they can do is stay enrolled to finish their degrees.

“Another thing they would help is to spread the word about your positive experiences at Cameron University to area high school students,” he said. “If you’ve had a good experience at Cameron, let them know that this could be a good choice for them as well.

“There are many are high school graduates who could succeed in college with just a little encouragement.”

McArthur said he is grateful for the feedback he has received from the Cameron student body during the challenging financial situation.

“Our students have asked great questions throughout the process,” he said. “The ideas are wonderful, but the questions themselves are wonderful.

“A good question makes you rethink your assumptions, which in a time of the budget situation that we’re in, we need to look at all the things that we do out of habit to make sure that those are good habits. I think your questions let us do that.”

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