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Mearns discusses the gap in CSU’s budget

March 24, 2011

BY Kelsey Mercurio

Even though the implications of the Ohio State Budget has not been analyzed the university administration, faculty and staff at Cleveland State are already making plans on how to meet the challenges arising from the cuts and other provisions in the budget.

The main challenge that Cleveland State is facing is the gap between the anticipated revenue and the anticipated expenses.

There are a few different ways Cleveland State can meet the gap. You can cut the expenses so that they are down to revenue or you can increase the revenue so it is up to the amount of revenue needed, or a combination of both, Provost Geoffrey S. Mearns explained.

A way to increase revenue would be to develop new programs within the departments. This might get new students in the colleges which will increase revenue for the departments. “This could actually be a positive effect for students.” Mearns said.

“Deans of the colleges were asked to work with faculty and staff to develop proposals that they have submitted to us,” Mearns said, “We gave all colleges a budget target. Then they can think of ideas to increase revenue and also ideas to reduce expenses.”
Provost Mearns is evaluating the proposals submitted by the deans of the various colleges in the university, following which he will be consulting with President Berkman.

“What I imagine is when the budget numbers become more clear then I will sit down with each of the deans and say, ‘here are the five things in your plan that the President and I approve of’.” Mearns explained, “’We approve of number one two and three but we don’t approve of number four, so you need to come up with a new idea, and we like five but you need to make the following changes’.”

Another strategy that departments might use is to have the enrollment limits increased in classes. Right now there are enrollment caps for classes that were set along time ago. Some faculty and students feel that increasing the caps on class size could have some negative effects on students. However, Provost Mearns feels that it does not seem to be all negative.

“More students in the class means they may have less one on one time with the teacher,” Mearns said, “but it may be beneficial because students may be closed out of the class, well if they raise the caps it will give students more access to get into higher demanded classes. In return it will also generate additional revenue.”

One of the suggestions being seriously considered is to cut some programs and full-time faculty, and replace them with more part-timers.

“We don’t want to do any changes that would adversely effect the learning environment, so we want to make sure if we move to more part time faculty, they are all well qualified,” Mearns said.

Provost Mearns appears to be confident that most of the cuts will not affect students and teaching adversely. The university is looking into ways to use more technology and professional staff in different ways that could mitigate the situation.

“The President makes it clear that he wants our university to be stronger when this is over,” Mearns said, “Simply because we get leaner doesn’t mean we get weaker.”

Provost Mearns anticipates the plans from most colleges will be mostly approved, and some colleges will have a little more to do. The government budget came out Tuesday March 15, so they will need time to look it over and see what the best strategies are.

“The process will probably not become clear for another month or so,” Mearns said.
Tim Long and Provost Mearns have been contacted by the Student Government Association (SGA) to have a meeting and give the opportunity for students to ask any questions and or concerns they may have.

“We certainly want to continue to keep students aware of what’s happening as soon as we have information,” Mearns said, “We want to give students the opportunity to know what’s going on and to receive their input and strategies.”

Provost Mearns also explains the best way to increase revenue is to attract new students and retain the students that already attend Cleveland State. “We would not do anything that will be detrimental to new students or retaining students.”

“What we want to do is continue to make a vibrant attractive university for students,” Mearns said.