Portland State administrators looked back on a year of important accomplishments and looked ahead to continuing fiscal challenges – including campus-wide budget cuts – at the annual President’s Town Hall gathering Tuesday at the Smith Memorial Student Union ballroom.
The event was attended by more than 300 faculty, staff and students.
PSU President Wim Wiewel detailed a long list of positive accomplishments of the last year, including creation of the College of the Arts, the Rethink Challenge, addition of new degrees and certificate programs, rankings in several magazines and organizations, and the upcoming commencement of the biggest graduation class of any university in Oregon history.
Monica Rimai, vice president of finance and administration, presented a budget picture that calls for a 2.3 percent reduction in expenditures from all divisions of the University in the coming fiscal year, and a 5.2 percent reduction the year after. She said the cuts are necessary due to a combination of declining state support, flat undergraduate enrollment and declining graduate enrollment.
In addition to budget cuts, the University will raise tuition next fall by 4.5 percent and use $12.6 million in reserve funds in the coming fiscal year. The cuts and the use of reserve funds will combine to cover an expected $18 million shortfall. The University took similar action in the current fiscal year to avert a $10 million budget deficit.
“This is very tough. This is my fifth year at the University, and we’ve made cuts every year,” said Wiewel. He added that the inflation-adjusted cost of educating students at PSU is roughly the same today as it was in 1995. The difference is that the state paid the lion’s share of those costs nearly 20 years ago compared to today, when students and their families pay the bulk of their college costs.
Wiewel added that he’s hopeful the Oregon Legislature will soon approve a governing board for PSU that will give the university more autonomy and accountability, which will benefit students and faculty.
“It will give us a group that will really focus on PSU, and it will be made up of people who are deeply connected with this community,” he said. If approved by the Legislature, the new governing board will start in 2014.
For many of the accomplishments President Wiewel mentioned in the Town Hall, see his Spring Term Letter to the PSU Community here. To see a copy of Rimai’s talking points on the budget, click here. To see a video of the entire presentation, click here.