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This headline is positive news in terms of whether we’re heading for a shutdown:

Minnesota legislative leaders reach deal for $3 billion higher ed bill

Here are the details of the agreement:

Legislative negotiators settled on a spending increase for Minnesota’s public colleges and universities Thursday, one of their first agreements after days of private talks.

Minnesota’s next two-year budget will include $166 million in new higher education spending, bringing total state spending on the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities to $3 billion. The increase is likely not enough new funding to continue a freeze on tuition in place since 2013. School leaders requested roughly more than $270 million in new taxpayer money to hold the line on tuition and for other initiatives.

Gov. Mark Dayton wanted $283 million in new college spending to freeze tuition and invest new money in the University of Minnesota Medical School.

That’s the first major spending bill that negotiators have reached agreement on. That’s a positive sign. In 2011, the legislature passed a number of bills that met with Gov. Dayton’s approval only to have him reject them without an agreement on raising taxes.

What people don’t remember is that Gov. Dayton could’ve signed a bunch of bills in 2011 that would’ve kept the government open. He chose to veto those bills in his attempt to raise Minnesotans’ taxes. That’s indisputable fact.

This is the final weekend of the regular session. Thus far, 2 budget bills have been signed. This is the first budget bill that negotiators have reached agreement on. That leaves 5 budget bills still to be negotiated and voted on. That’s a daunting task but it’s amazing what can get accomplished when all parties might get blamed.

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Last week, the St. Cloud Times ran an editorial titled Why are House Republicans targeting college students? Here’s the heart of the DFL’s Times’ editorial:

In the higher education bill passed by the GOP-dominated House, more than $53 million has been cut from the state grant appropriation as part of the $128 million appropriation it has recommended for MnSCU.

The state grant program helps as many as 100,000 low- and middle-income Minnesota students pay for their college tuition. This covers students in public and private colleges. If the bill comes out unchanged in conference committee, more than 8,000 students in the St. Cloud area will receive a lower grant next year, according to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

Thankfully, Rep. Jim Knoblach corrected the Times Editorial Board:

This is one of the more inaccurate editorials I have seen in the Times. The state grant program has a $72 million surplus. That is why House Republicans are proposing to take $53 million of it and give it to the MNSCU system. The writer of this should check their facts with someone with the House Republicans before just writing something like this. If anyone wants documentation please send an email to me at rep.jim.knoblach@house.mn and I will send it to you.

I’m not accusing the Times of intentionally misleading students. It’s quite possible that they just did a sloppy job of researching this editorial.

Jim Knoblach has lots of information on this sort of thing as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. That’s the last committee stop before financial bills go to the House floor. Jim has lots of experience with the Committee, having served as chairman in 2003-2006.

Early in this video, Alan Dershowitz lavishly praised Megyn Kelly’s opening monologue defending the First Amendment:

First, here’s a partial transcript of Megyn Kelly’s opening monologue:

MEGYN KELLY: Well, last night we had a thoughtful discussion about free speech and American values and why our commitment to liberty as a nation requires everyone to stand up for the rights of those speaking, even if they’re using the most offensive of words. It’s not about aligning ourselves with the words. It’s about defending a core American principle. First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh explained how, not only did the people organizing a “Draw Muhammad” event down in Texas have the right to do it, which some had questioned, but how what they did was actually important and of real value because it was an act of defiance. Defiance towards those radical Muslim fanatics who mean to impose their radical moral code on us, namely that certain figures may not be drawn or parodied upon pain of death. What happened in Texas is that a group said no, you don’t get to control speech in this country, even if a religion finds it offensive. Sure enough, the jihadis showed up with AK-47s and tried to murder everyone there. Now some suggest that the risk from the event is that some of our Muslim nation coalition allies might be less inclined to fight the jihad if they see some private group like this one hold a private event. So private citizens shouldn’t do things even behind closed doors now, lest they cause offense? Because our friends in Egypt might get ticked off. But the fact is we don’t compromise America’s bedrock principles just to make other nations like us more just as we don’t require them to change their values before we fight a common enemy. Otherwise, Egypt’s “We will kill you for leaving Islam” might be a deal-breaker. The bottom line here is that some in this country have been so busy trying how to figure out how to avoid causing any religion any offense, they have forgotten what is offensive to Americans, namely those who would trample on our core ideals. In America, we stand for liberty and freedom to offend, to provoke, to persuade and to defy.

Alan Dershowitz is a Harvard Law Professor Emeritus and author of the book “Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law.” Alan, let me start with you…

DERSHOWITZ: Let me start with you first and applaud your statement. It was fantastic. It is the paradigm for how Americans have to look at our freedoms and our First Amendment. Jefferson would have been proud of you.

That led Professor Dershowitz to make this important historical observation:

DERSHOWITZ: Now, look, everything that the critics of Geller have said could be said about Martin Luther King. Now, I don’t want to make any comparisons between the two of them morally but, from a constitutional law standpoint, there is no difference. Martin Luther King picked some of the cities he went to precisely to provoke and bring out the racists and show what type of violent people they are so the world could see what was wrong with Jim Crow. It’s part of the American tradition to provoke so the world can see.

Here’s one of the things I wrote in this post:

It’s worth noting, though, that radical adherents of Islam react violently when confronted with objectionable depictions of Muhammad but that the vilest representatives of Christianity, aka the Westboro Baptist Church, show up at funerals with disgusting signs. Another thing worth noting is that universities are told to establish “an inclusive and welcoming environment” for Muslims but aren’t told to establish that type of environment for Christians.

The event in Texas verified what I wrote here, namely, that Muslim terrorists react violently whereas the nastiest Christians get is they show up at funerals with disgusting signs.

Thanks to the event in Texas, it’s now clear that the vilest Christians react dramatically differently than Muslim terrorists.

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Maybe It’s Understandable Why It’s Crazy Around Here!
by Silence Dogood

The Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs is the chief academic officer on a university campus. In many ways, the Provost runs the campus while the President raises money from the alumni and state legislators. After the departure of Dr. Devinder Malhotra, Dr. Richard Green was hired as Interim Provost—initially for a period of six months. His contract was extended another six months.

Shown below is the organizational chart for the Provost’s areas of responsibility.

In the Provost’s office, two of the three individuals listed are serving as interim appointments. Dr. Steve Hoover has now been appointed as Interim Dean of the School of Education so another interim appointment will have to be made to replace him. Dr. David DeGroote was removed as Dean of the College of Science and Engineering in the Summer of 2013 and given a semester-long sabbatical and then an interim job in the Provost’s office. Since he was rumored to have not wanted to return to teaching the following year, his position in the Provost’s Office was extended another year and he is retiring at the end of this academic term. Apparently, his position is not being filled.

Looking at the Colleges and Schools, of the eight Deans there are three Deans who are serving as interims. Dr. Bruce Busby is finishing his first year as Dean of the University College and Associate Provost for Student Success. Dr. Busby has announced that he has decided to retire in June. An interim will be appointed soon. The most ‘senior’ (i.e., longest serving Dean) is Dr. Osman Alawiye who as Dean of the School of Education has served for five years as Dean. Dean Alawiye is leaving at the end of this academic term and is being replaced by Dr. Steve Hoover (currently serving as Interim Associate Provost for Faculty and Student Affairs) who will serve as Interim Dean for two years. The three Deans Dr. Mark Springer, Dr. Monica Devers, and Dr. Dan Gregory, were all appointed as interim deans before being selected for the position permanently and all have less than three years as the permanent Dean of their respective College/School.

The Centers and Offices are not much different. Two individuals are listed both under Colleges and Schools and Centers and Offices. Dr. Patricia Hughes, is Interim Associate Provost for Research and Dr. Bruce Busby is Associate Provost for Student Success (Enrollment Management). A search to replace Dr. Hughes has been completed and the President will soon announce her replacement. Dr. Bruce Busby, as mentioned, has announced his retirement so there will be an interim appointment to serve as Associate Provost for Student Success. John Burgeson is retiring at the end of the term and is not being replaced. The Center for Continuing Studies is being dissected and the responsibilities of that office are being distributed across the campus. Dr. Lalita Subrahmanyan, the Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning will be on sabbatical for the upcoming year and an interim replacement is being sought. Thy Yang, the Associate Vice President for the Center for International Studies is finishing her first year on campus. Dr. Mark Vargas, Dean of Learning Resources is finishing his second year on campus. Only Dr. Dan Wildeson, the Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education, Darlene St. Clair, Director of the Multicultural Resource Center, and Sue Bayerl, the registrar, have more than four years on the job.

These may all be impressive individuals. However, experience usually counts for something and it is clear that this group of individuals has been going through a lot of ‘on the job training.’ Is this merry-go-round of administrators responsible for the $12,000,000 FY16 deficit and current enrollment decline? The jury is still out on that one. However, one thing is clear. This is President Earl Potter’s team. Since his arrival, all but two senior-level administrators have been replaced and some of them more than once. In fact, in a 17-month period, SCSU had five chief financial officers. One can only hope that these selections were better than the Coborn’s Plaza Apartment decision that has already cost SCSU $7,700,000 and is likely to cost another $6,000,000 over the next five years before the university is able to get out of the lease. SCSU simply can’t take too many more of these “successes.”

If I Were Him, I’d Leave Too!
by Silence Dogood

Dr. Bruce Busby arrived on campus last July to assume the position of Dean, University College & Associate Provost for Student Success. Looking at his job responsibilities listed on the University College’s webpage, it appears that he has a lot on his plate.

With a 21.8% decline in FYE enrollment over the past five years, simply overseeing undergraduate admissions and recruiting might be expected to be a full-time job all by itself. However, from the list of responsibilities, it is clear that he has almost more than any three or four extremely talented people who could reasonably be expected to perform those responsibilities. Now with the latest reorganization, direction of Summer School and overseeing of the Senior-to-Sophomore program (S2S) have been added to his plate. Overseeing these two programs is almost by itself another full-time job, which brings the total to over five positions! Given the current $12,000,000 budget deficit, it is clear that people will be expected to do more (with less). However, this is ridiculous!

In the movie Multiplicity (1996), Michael Keaton is able to keep up with all of the demands on him by cloning himself (several times). Everything seemed to be going fine. However, just remember not to ‘copy a copy.’ Clearly, Dr. Busby is very talented but, unless the SCSU Biology Department has perfected human cloning, there is little chance that he could be successful trying to do five jobs at the same time. Even if he could, who would really want too? Given that there are only 168 hours in a week, how many beyond 50-60 hours do you really want to spend working?

It is not hard to understand why Dr. Busby might have chosen to leave SCSU for retirement back in Ohio. Not only is the weather better, he won’t have to wear as many hats unless he’s fishing in the Mighty Maumee River. The only thing that is unfortunate for Dr. Busby is that before his departure he didn’t have the opportunity to travel internationally at university expense as so many other administrators have done before him.

This article offers an opportunity to conduct a thought experiment. First, it’s important to establish a base of understanding:

  1. Several professors put together a panel on the Charlie Hebdo murders; the panel was promoted with the flyer quoted above, which includes the cover of the first post-murder issue, with a “CENSORED” stamp added on top of it. “The flyer was published on the various unit sponsors’ websites and elsewhere on campus.” The event, according to the participants, drew a lot of attendees, and apparently wasn’t disrupted in any way.
  2. But then, after the event, “eight people — four students, a retired professor, an adjunct professor and two others from outside the university — contacted equal opportunity personnel to express concern that the flyer ‘featured a depiction of Muhammad, which they and many other Muslims consider blasphemous and/or insulting.’” The university also got a petition from 260 students and staff members, plus about 45 others, which condemned the flyer as “very offensive” and said it “violated our religious identity and hurt our deeply held religious affiliations for our beloved prophet (peace be upon him). Knowing that these caricatures hurt and are condemned by 1.75 billion Muslims in the world, the university should not have recirculated/reproduced them.”

Here’s the summary of what should be done:

The [Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action] said in its summary for the dean, the poster had “significant negative repercussions.” And given the “large-scale” global protests against the image in question, “the organizers knew or should have known” that their decision to reprint the image “would offend, insult and alienate some not-insignificant proportion of the university’s Muslim community on the basis of their religious identity,” the office added. It said the hurt was heightened by the fact that the insulting speech came from those with “positional power” at Minnesota.

Consequently, the office wrote, “university members should condemn insults made to a religious community in the name of free speech.” Equal opportunity administrators told [John Coleman, dean of the College of Liberal Arts,] that he had the “opportunity to lead in creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for Muslim students by adding your own speech to the dialogue advocating for civility and respect by [college] faculty.”

It’s clear that the highest priority of the “Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action” is to a) create “an inclusive and welcoming environment for Muslim students” and b) to not “offend, insult and alienate some not-insignificant proportion of the university’s Muslim community on the basis of their religious identity.”

My question for Dr. Coleman, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, is simple. If Dr. Coleman accepts these recommendations, is he prepared to implement these recommendations for people of all faiths?

I’m not proposing that he adopt any of these recommendations. I’m not proposing anything, with the exception of applying the First Amendment consistently and correctly to all University students and employees.

It’s worth noting, though, that radical adherents of Islam react violently when confronted with objectionable depictions of Muhammad but that the vilest representatives of Christianity, aka the Westboro Baptist Church, show up at funerals with disgusting signs. Another thing worth noting is that universities are told to establish “an inclusive and welcoming environment” for Muslims but aren’t told to establish that type of environment for Christians.

Perhaps Dr. Coleman can explain that policy. Perhaps but I’d bet not.

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Aviation Is Back At SCSU?
by Silence Dogood

The SCTimes on April 15, 2015, published an article: “SCSU engineers fly into new territory.” The following image from the article captures the essence of the story.

The picture shows Dr. Andy Bekkala and five mechanical engineering students who are working on their senior project. The article stated that it is “the first time that the college has entered the aerial division.”

According to the article “None of us have any experience building or doing anything with planes,” said team member Blake Torfin. “We do now, but we really had to research how a plane worked when we first started.”

The SAE Aero Design® Series—West competition was held April 24-26, 2015 in Van Nuys, CA. In looking up the results for SCSU, for a first-time competing, it probably was a good effort. The “Flying Huskies” were listed three times in the results:

Regular Class MAX Payload: 24th out of 41 (0.000 lbs)

Regular Class Design Results: 36th out of 41 (30.3889)

Regular Class Presentation Results 30th out of 41 (30.4000)

If I missed something in the results, I apologize in advance.

In May 2014, the Aviation program at St. Cloud State University officially closed. One is left only to wonder whether or not the experience of the aviation faculty might have been able to provide resources to the students, which might have allowed the students to achieve a higher ranking. However, it certainly seems that the recent growth in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), known in the mainstream as drones, certainly could have justified the ‘restructuring’ of the aviation rather than its closure. Even the expansion of Camp Ripley near Little Falls to accommodate drones alone might have given additional justification for maintaining a program that President Earl Potter once described as “being on the national radar.”

Faced with declining enrollments and a budget deficit over $12,000,000 for FY16, President Potter has said repeatedly stated that “we can’t cut ourselves out of financial difficulty—we have to grow our programs.” Given the growth in the demand for trained drone pilots both in the military and soon commercially, it seems a shame that this was an ‘opportunity lost.’

A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.

Harry S. Truman

This op-ed highlights how regulators make things difficult for people:

A literacy expert with years of experience in high-poverty schools. A special education instructor whose children make huge academic gains. A Harvard graduate whose students led the state in math.

These are among the countless teachers who can’t get licensed in Minnesota. That is, unless they jump through a variety of hoops, including spending time and money on redundant coursework, and even student teaching.

The reason? They were originally licensed out-of-state. To be licensed in Minnesota, they must navigate an unclear, unreasonable and inconsistent process that purports to uphold high standards but in practice prevents successful out-of-state educators from teaching our kids.

This doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t help school administrators trying to fill vacancies. It certainly doesn’t help students.

When teacher shortages are growing across the state and school leaders are reporting that licensing hurdles prevent them from recruiting qualified candidates, Minnesota can no longer justify this confounding system.

When 10 experienced educators pursuing their Minnesota licenses have grown so frustrated, they’re currently suing the Board of Teaching, which is the entity responsible for licensing decisions, it’s clear that the system is broken.

It’s time to put students first. They shouldn’t tolerate oversize classes just because a regulator, in this case the Board of Teaching, thinks that successful instructors in other states should have to do student teaching in Minnesota. Think of how absurd that sounds.

There’s no justification for that type of regulation.

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You know nanny statism has spun off the rails when you see notes like this:

I hope Leeza Pearson tells this moron to stick that note where the sun doesn’t shine. Here’s what happened:

Leeza Pearson was out of fruit and vegetables one day last week, so she tucked a pack of Oreos in her daughter Natalee’s lunch and sent her off to school at the Children’s Academy in Aurora, Colorado. Pearson said she was stunned when her 4-year-old came home later in the day with the cookies untouched and a sternly worded note from the school.

Here’s the text of the note:

Dear Parents, it is very important that all students have a nutritious lunch. This is a public school setting and all children are required to have a fruit, a vegetable and a healthy snack from home, along with a milk. If they have potatoes, the child will also need bread to go along with it. Lunchables, chips, fruit snacks, and peanut butter are not considered to be a healthy snack. This is a very important part of our program and we need everyone’s participation.

That’s chilling words:

We need everyone’s participation.

Schools aren’t the final arbiter of what children eat. If health departments want to address childhood obesity, that’s one thing. It’s another when the government tells parents what to do.

Pearson said she is baffled by how the school handled the situation. “I think it is definitely over the top, especially because they told her she can’t eat what is in her lunch,” Pearson told ABC News. “They should have at least allowed to eat her food and contacted me to explain the policy and tell me not to pack them again.”

Officials at the Children’s Academy said they have no comment when contacted by ABC News. However, Patty Moon, a spokeswoman for the Aurora Public Schools, which provides funding for some of the children to attend the private pre-school, said a note in the lunchbox is not supposed to be standard practice. “From our end we want to inform parents but never want it to be anything punitive,” Moon said.

Moon’s statement is BS. The note sent home wasn’t hand-written. It was pre-printed. The school’s intentions are exceptionally clear. It’s clear that the school wants to dictate policy to parents. It’s time to pull the plug on this school.

Parents should decide what their children eat. Nanny staters shouldn’t have a say in the matter. Period.

What Difference Does A Million Here And A Million There Make When You Don’t Have That Million?
by Silence Dogood

Last October, heads turned when it was publically revealed that SCSU had a projected $9,542,000 deficit for FY15. This was especially disconcerting when the previous March, a budget projection said that the FY14 budget was balanced. A question that has never been answered by the administration is how you can go from a balanced budget in FY14 to a deficit of $9,542,000 the following year—without, of course, there being a cataclysmic event? I am just wondering if I missed something?

President Potter, at a town hall meeting on the budget in the fall, stated that the deficit for FY14 was $708,000 and that $700,000 of the deficit was due to increased costs for heating during the previous winter. At Meet and Confer in March, the administration released their latest budget projections showing the FY16 budget being cut by just over $9,000,000. A portion of the budget document is reproduced below:

The document also showed for FY16 the loss of 76 FYE faculty positions and 50 staff positions. Additionally, the document showed that the deficit for FY15 is projected to be $10,284,000, which is $742,000 or 7.8% larger than the deficit projected last October. Another surprise showed up in the document; the FY14 deficit was $11,840,000, which is quite a bit larger than the $708,000 cited by President Potter last fall.

A portion of the Meeting Notes of the Portfolio Management & Resource Allocation Steering Group meeting of April 8, 2015 is reproduced below:

According to this document, the expenses for FY16 are going to be reduced by $12 million. There are many things that I have been happily ignorant of at SCSU. However, I think that I have closely followed SCSU’s budget/enrollment situation. This is the first time that I have heard that the cuts for the FY16 budget have been increased from $9,000,0000 to $12,000,000. When you are dealing with such large numbers, what’s another $3,000,000? Unfortunately, an increase of $3,000,000 is an increase in the planned reduction by an additional 33%!

When the narrative for the SCSU’s Financial Recovery Plan was submitted, the FY16 deficit was reported as between $10,000,000 and $12,000,000. The precise size of the projected FY16 deficit will change over time as new information becomes available. When the Financial Recovery Plan was presented, it was understood that the administration wasn’t going to try to eliminate all of the deficit in one year because it would be attempting to cut too much at one time.

Five years ago, the administration cut $14,500,000 from the budget and enrollment declined 6.9%, 5.3%, 5.1%, and 5.0% in the four years following the cuts. It was not surprising that the administration was only planning on cutting $9,000,000 when the deficit was between $10,000,000 and $12,000,000. Now it appears that the ‘decision makers’ have decided to increase the amount of cuts from $9,000,000 to $12,000,000.

Why is this important? The original budget cut of $9,075,000 projected the loss of 76 FYE faculty positions and 50 staff positions. Now with the budget cut increasing to $12,000,000, this may translate into the loss of an additional 25 FYE faculty positions and an additional 16 staff positions. This will affect lots of people. It’s a big deal!

The administration’s budget information, which was released as part of SCSU’s Financial Recovery Plan that was submitted to MnSCU (reproduced above), shows that even with a cut of $9,075,000 in expenses, there is still a projected deficit of $679,000 in FY16. The latest budget document that has been circulated projects a deficit of $12,378,000 for FY16. Apparently, the FY16 deficit has increased from $9,754,000 ($9,075,000 + $679,000) to $12,378,000, which represents an increase of $2,624,000 and corresponds to an increase of 26.9%. Concomitantly, the cuts have increased from $9,000,000 to $12,000,000. Unfortunately, the lack of communication and lack of transparency continues, on the part of the administration, as it appears that this increase in the deficit and the increase of the amounts of cuts have not been widely disseminated across the campus. (Budget cuts corresponding to $12,268,000 were revealed by Vice President of Finance and Administration Tammy McGee at the Budget Advisory Group meeting on April 24, 2015).

It has often been heard around the campus that the cuts will amount to a reduction of only 5%. The problem is the budget documents show that SCSU’s General Fund projects a deficit of $12,268,000 on a General Fund Revenue Total of $144,421,000. As a percentage, the deficit is 8.5%, which is considerably larger than the 5%. Additionally, since there are a number of fixed costs that cannot be cut and must be paid. Bond payments must be made, buildings need to be heated and lighted, water needs to come out of the faucets and contracts must be honored. Deciding to not pay the electric bill is probably not a successful long-term strategy. Because fixed costs and contractual costs can’t be cut easily, the cuts in other places will necessarily be larger and more in the range of 10%.

Almost everyone on campus knows that the budget axe is going to fall and it’s not going to be pretty when it hits. A review of the unit plans for budget reduction uniformly predict dire consequences if 10% reductions occur. It is also known by almost everyone that you can’t cut $12,000,000 (or $9,000,000 for that matter) and not at the same time cut programs and services that are generating revenue, which is clearly in conflict with the fourth bullet point of the Principles/Assumptions. However, the assumptions document, as written, appears to prevent cutting money loosing revenue generators (i.e., some activities generate $0.27 of revenue for every dollar expended). What needs to occur is an increase in the margin between revenue and expense for the campus as a whole. A focus only on revenue leaves a false impression that revenue needs to be preserved, however, increasing revenue production that costs more to produce than the revenue generated results in larger deficits not smaller deficits.

Anything that reduces revenue simply ‘kicks the can down the road’ because it will increase the deficit and will lead to additional cuts in subsequent years. Unfortunately, class sizes can’t simply be increased enough to overcome SCSU’s structural deficit.

Several weeks ago, Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker announced that the University of Wisconsin system would have to absorb a budget cut of $300,000,000. That very day, the President of the University of Wisconsin system, in response Walker’s announcement, stated that all out of state travel would be suspended. Recently, the Faculty Association distributed a document listing the administrative travel at SCSU, which is reproduced below:

The information shows that the administration paid $1,600,718 for travel in FY12, increasing to 1,902,706 in FY13 and increasing again to 2,089,731 in FY14. It is important to know that this data does not include faculty travel because it is not paid for from the general fund budget. The data for FY15 is not complete but it would be a safe bet that the total is going to be in the same range or higher than in FY14. The Faculty Association had asked for the travel expenses broken down by individual to see who is travelling at university expense, along with the reason for the travel, and just how much it is actually costing. The document received from the administration gives the travel expenses in such a way that it is not possible to see how much President Potter and others have spent on frequent trips out of the country. Clearly, some out of state travel has the potential to increase enrollment and revenue. However, not all travel has an equal potential for revenue enhancement. In fact, it is entirely possible that enrollment may go up but still lead to a negative return on investment.

It does not need a banner hung over University Avenue to know that enrollment at SCSU has been declining. Enrollment for FY12, FY13, and FY14 correspond to enrollment declines of 6.9%, 6.4%, and 5.1%, respectively. From the data from the administration, it is clear that the enrollment decline is decreasing as the administration spends more money on travel. Let’s look at the data in a more quantitative way.

The enrollment decline at SCSU is plotted in the following figure:

The linear regression line is shown. Using the equation for the linear regression line, it is possible to calculate when the percent enrollment decline will eventually reduce to 0%, which means that the enrollment is no longer declining. The calculation yields that the enrollment decline will reach 0% during fiscal year 2020 (2019.8).

The following figure shows the amount spent on travel by the administration that came from the operational budget:

The linear regression line is shown. Using the equation for the linear regression line, it is possible to calculate what the administrative spending on travel will be for each year through fiscal year 2020. The results are shown in the following table:

The data shows that if the administration expends $15,433,000 on travel during the next five years, the enrollment decline will be reduced to 0%. If even more money is spent on travel, presumably the enrollment will turn around sooner!

I hope that anyone with even any knowledge of university finances will recognize that this argument about travel expenses and enrollment decline is not really serious. However, what is serious is that SCSU has to cut the budget for FY16 by over $12,000,000.

Genius idea. Let’s stop all administrative travel unless it is directly related to increasing enrollment that will result in a net gain in revenue. In this way, essentially all travel will literally fund itself. This strategy may save SCSU over $2,000,000 per year and it will probably result in increased enrollment. At a time when the budget is being cut by $12,000,000, a ‘painless’ $2,000,000 savings would almost seem like a ‘Christmas miracle.’ At this time, SCSU needs one.