Provost Covino supports Fresno State budget cuts

FRESNO, Calif.

The proposal includes relocating the department of Economics from the College of Social Sciences to the Craig School of Business, the Child and Family Sciences department from the Jordan College of Agriculture to Kremen School of Education and the Fashion Merchandising department from Jordan College to the Craig School of Business.

"I will bring these recommendations to the deans of the colleges because several of them have to do with the way they manage their enrollment and their budgets," said Covino. "And I'll ask them to get to work on it and stay in touch with me."

Based upon mid-year projections, Covino said the gap between the allocation of state dollars and tuition fees and the actual costs of operating programs in Academic Affairs was $8.6 million. He said some of the deficit was addressed through funded research, gifts, donations, continuing education revenue and other means. However, even when all funds are tapped, a gap of $1.1 million remained.

While he acknowledged moving the programs won't save much money, some of the other recommendations from the Academic Affairs Budget Advisory Task Force would help bridge the gap. Those recommendations, he said, include reducing course offerings, trimming those that consistently see low enrollment and giving university centers and institutes three years to become self-sufficient.

"We need to put our resources where there is the greatest student demand and where we can serve them in terms of progress to degree most effectively," said Covino.

Covino appointed the Task Force last April. Since then, the team of representatives from every school/college at Fresno state has been researching the budget gap and consulting with faculty administrators and students.

After hearing from the public at several open forums the group withdrew its original recommendation to consolidate the College of Science and Mathematics into the College of Agricultural Sciences.

"I'm glad to see in the revisions that the dismantling and dismemberment of Math and Science are off the table," said English Department Chair, Lisa Weston. "I'm also rather relieved that Arts and Humanities will stand as an independent college."

After hearing from the Provost Thursday, Weston said she still has some concerns.

"I do have concerns about the active management of enrollment, for example, which sometimes means raise the number of students in the classroom by 25% rather than how courses can be taught most effectively," she said. "Graduate seminars need to be small, language courses can't be taught in classrooms of 500, so there's these sort of things I need to keep my eye on, they need to be watched."

Covino noted that budget problems in academics won't be completely solved by enacting the Task Force recommendations. While he said the actions will help close the gap for this year, another budget cut looms for the entire university if California voters don't approve a tax measure on the November ballot. If that doesn't happen, he said, Fresno State can expect to have its budget reduced by another $10.1 million.

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