Amid cuts, Fresno State plans for the future

FRESNO, Calif.

As transfer student Molly Bashir bought books Wednesday, she said the costs are adding up quickly. "I'm overwhelmed more than excited. It's a lot of work. It's going to take a lot."

The anxiety over a new semester is also impacting faculty. From the start of the president's morning address, the message was grim. "I hoped we could say that 2012 will be better than last year, but I'm not sure if that's possible to say that at this moment," said Dr. Welty.

Dr. Welty didn't hesitate to point fingers at the state legislature for failing to make higher education a priority. Students at Fresno State are already facing a $498 tuition hike next fall but Welty said things could get even worse if voters don't approve the governor's proposed tax initiative in November. "If that ballot doesn't pass, we go into another $200,000 reduction at mid-year when we really can't make significant adjustments. So we're going to have to do some very creative planning in order to prepare for next year.".

That reduction in CSU funding would amount to about $11-million for Fresno State. To prepare for the future, the university is shifting to a so called 'all funds' budgeting approach that relies on sources other than just state allocations and tuition hikes. Those sources include private donations and out of state enrollment fees.

While faculty members remain committed to the university and its students, the excitement of a new semester is somewhat overshadowed by the unknown. "When you hear financial news which we're hearing coming from the governor's office and the legislature I can't help but feel a little demoralized by the nature of what we're facing," said Professor Matthew Jendian.

The university just took a $5.4-million hit in December and administrators decided to use reserves to avoid impacting students and faculty during this fiscal year. The president expects to outline a new budget plan next month to tackle the 2012/2013 budget.

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