Administrators including Provost Thomas Sudkamp and Chief Business Officer Walt Branson have stated that the university’s efforts have ranged from major policy changes and budget cuts to minor practice changes, all in the name of budget remediation.
In March of 2017, Dayton Daily News reported an $850,000 rebranding effort from the university.
In February of 2018, the Division of Facilities Management and Services eliminated their contracted custodial services and now utilize WSU custodial personnel only. The university will also rely on their own HVAC team instead of a contracted group.
“These two modifications will save over $500,000 annually,” said Chief Business Officer Walt Branson in an email. “We are doing everything we can to prevent students from being affected or noticing these changes.”
Branson also stated that internal changes and processes have been implemented over the course of the past year, which have saved the university money.
Scrutiny has become more important in determining cuts and eliminations, according to Seth Bauguess, director of communications.
“There has been a lot more emphasis on monitoring and reporting; the financial governance policy allows the board of trustees to check on how the budget is doing in more regular intervals,” Bauguess said.
The financial governance policy “added a lot of structure around accountability and oversight. In essence, that plan makes it very difficult for the administration to go outside the approved spending plan that is the budget,” said Doug Fecher, chair of the Board of Trustees.
The policy was revised last year. Before that, it had not been updated since 2003, according to Fecher.
The Board of Trustees now uses an external financial reporting model that is put out by the National Association of College and University Business Officers. That model categorizes revenues and expenses. The reports allow the board to know where revenue is coming from and how the university is spending it, according to Fecher.
The report makes a distinction between two categories in particular: institutional and instructional expenses. Instructional includes faculty salaries and benefits or “checks that we write to pay for the instruction of students,” while institutional is where administration and other offices lie, said Fecher. Administration is, however, not the only thing included in institutional expenses.
The objective model reports that from Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 to FY 2017, the compound annual growth rate of instructional expenses was 2.12 percent. while institutional has grown 2.78 percent. during that same period.
Between FY 2016 and FY 2017, the board and administration began making cuts. From last year to this year, instructional expenses grew by 2.68 percent and institutional expenses fell by 8.61 percent.
As for salaries and benefits, the data shows that during FY 2017, $12.8 million more was spent on instructional expenses than in FY 2013. In just the last year, those expenses went up by 3.6 percent, according to Fecher.
By comparison, the total dollar growth on institutional support from FY 2013 to FY 2017 was $3.9 million; the growth rate went from 2.66 percent in 2013 to 1.13 percent in the last year. The data shows that “the university is cutting back on its institutional support expenses to a greater degree than it is cutting back on instructional expenses,” Said Fecher.
Fecher was unable to answer which positions were cut in administration.
The Office of Marketing and the Office of Communications have also contributed to cutting costs. The offices were relocated from the Wright State Research Institute to the main campus; this will cut the cost of lease payments, according to Bauguess and Sudkamp.
The Office of Marketing chose to print the Wright State University Magazine once this year, according to Bauguess. “Everything else is online but we printed the magazine once.”
Sudkamp explained how construction and building projects were a focal point to cut costs in the budget.
“An area that caused a drain in our reserves was a number of our building projects. They were funded but started without having the full money behind it to be able to finish. They would be listed in the budget as gifts to be generated during the process and when those gifts didn’t come in, we still built the building and we still had to pay the contractors,” Sudkamp said.
According to Sudkamp, other changes include:
- Cutting costs associated with some on-campus events and discontinuing others; such as the roughly $200,000 annual Christmas party hosted by former president David Hopkins.
- Reconsidering the leases over property that the university owns
- Restricting discretionary spending in areas such as travel and outside catering
- Cutting phone allowances down to two people; Bauguess and emergency manager
- Renegotiating contracts with software companies and student information company
- Cutting library hours due to reducing faculty
- Eliminating bring your child to work day for staff
- Scaling back on spending for staff appreciation night at basketball games
“We went for a period of time where we really restricted discretionary spending like travel. In the long run we can’t do that forever because students go on trips and faculty go to conferences,” Sudkamp said.
A budget presentation from Chief Financial Officer Jeff Ulliman showed that department merges have been considered. One merge included in the presentation was the combination of the Office of Latino Affairs with the Asian and Native American Center.
The Student Union, Student Activities, Campus Recreation, Student Support and Counseling and Wellness Center were also merged, all becoming one department.
Ulliman’s presentation also showed that the Office of Disability Services began offering reduced test proctoring hours after 5 p.m., and the College of Nursing is now performing Skype visits rather than in-person visits when possible.
Wright State used to have a New York Times program which cost $20,000 a year, according to Sudkamp. “It was a nice thing because not only did you get the newspaper, but the New York Times would send one person a year to be a speaker,” he said. “We had some very interesting speakers through the program but there was a lot of expense in bringing them.”
Other measures undertaken by the university including a year-long negotiating contract with the faculty union, implementing the reorganization of some colleges and schools on campus, and introducing a strategic planning process to guide the university.
“Our comprehensive strategic plan will help achieve financial stability for Wright State and foster a campus atmosphere that provides our graduates with opportunities to excel in fields that define the future and our region,” said President Cheryl Schrader in a campus-wide Communications email.
“I think there are a lot of tiny inputs and big ones – but in many cases students are genuinely unaware. Because they are not events that students go to, they are not office supplies that students use, they are not staff that students are working with. But a lot savings has happened – [about] 50 million dollars,” said Seth Bauguess, director of communications.
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