Toni Castro: Last year, we started a commuter business center
for students to do faxing, e-mailing, and printing. We had to
eliminate a position that provided leadership to that area and
ended up closing that center within six months of opening. It
just was not mission critical.
Two years ago, we closed our child care center after 40
years of service. With budget cuts, we were not able to sustain
the program. It was a challenging closure for some 20 staff
members, many of whom had completed the early childhood
education program at the college. Again, we had to go back
and determine if the center was mission critical.
Cynthia Cherrey: I can share an extreme example from
my experience at Tulane coming out of Hurricane Katrina.
We had to scale back on graduate programs, and there were
academic departments that were closed or merged. In student affairs, I had to close the English as a Second Language
Department. We recognized that we could offer the service
in a different way. Outsourcing allowed us to directly match
faculty needs from year to year, rather than fund a dedicated
Sarah Westfall: We have not cut any programs, but we’ve
looked at where we could achieve cost reductions. We looked
at 12-month positions to determine if they could be reduced
to 10 or 11 months. It is about doing the same with less. We
are looking at how we can preserve jobs and get the work
accomplished. What do we need to do to keep the lights on
and the trains running?
Kurt Keppler: Greek life is a program that is very significant at Louisiana State University (LSU). Greek life involves
4,400 students and 30 Greek houses. Recently, we eliminated
$250,000 in Greek life salaries. Beginning with the 2011–12
academic year, were are now making students in Greek chapters pay a $36 fee to fund staff positions, and the university
will be responsible for supervision. In these kinds of times,
when the availability of state funds for some mission-critical
programs is in question, we just are not sure state dollars
should fund elective programs. This move avoids budget cuts
in areas of more critical need. Because of the passion for Greek
life, the funds will be raised.
QAre you experiencing higher levels of account- ability from institutional leaders?
Toni Castro: We are not necessarily feeling increased expectations, but changing expectations from the president, and
are impacted by state entities and accrediting agencies. All
of us in student affairs are looking at assessment and how it
is tied to student learning and outcomes, more so in the last
several years than ever before. With competing demands and
resources, we must use data to better inform the direction of
the services we are providing and to articulate what students
are learning and how we are meeting their needs in terms of
student learning and development outside the classroom.
Cynthia Cherrey: There is an increasing accountability factor, which requires collaborating more across the university.
Even though we are working with multiple programs and
different individuals in areas outside our purview, we are held
accountable. The international crisis in Japan earlier this year
is an example. At Princeton, three different areas across the
university have direct responsibility to follow up on international crises: the provost’s office, the undergraduate college,
and campus life.
Kurt Keppler: In addition to leading retention efforts, I am
given two main goals: reach the targeted number of incoming freshmen and reach our target for scores on the ACT/
SAT tests. Although it is an unwritten rule, it is clear that our
budget will be positively impacted if we achieve these goals. It
would be devastating if we didn’t. I also have established some
of that goal-setting with my staff. All staff members have an
assessment plan on the website, and they must update their
plans regularly. All staff members have access to all individual
goals, and it promotes a greater degree of accountability.
My sense is that the whole budget philosophy—how the
budget is expended or reduced—is compounded by enrollment numbers. Enrollment drives academic and financial
goals. To reach our numbers, we have put more emphasis on
our scholarship programs and involving our academic deans in
recruiting. This is the first institution in which I have worked
where admissions recruiting teams include academic deans.
The deans see admissions as part of their responsibilities as
well as ours.