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Volume 68, Issue 102, Monday, February 24, 2003

News

Lee: Funds, enrollment uncertain

In SFAC report, vice president says commttee must make 'extraordinary decisions'

By Matt Dulin
The Daily Cougar

Vice President of Student Affairs Elwyn C. Lee told the Student Fees Advisory Committee in its last day of hearings that now is not the time to deplete reserve funds set aside last year, saying the University faces "a lot of unknowns" in the developing state budget crisis.


Lorrie Novosad/The Daily Cougar
Vice President of Student Affairs Elwyn C. Lee told the Student Fee Advisory Committee that uncertain times lie ahead. 

"Weire really venturing into uncharted waters this fall. We wonit get word from the state until late in the game. Frankly, we donit know whatis going to hit us," Lee said in his scheduled address to the committee. "There are a lot of unknowns. Even the war is hitting close to home. It could have effects that we cannot entirely foresee."


Vice President Elwyn C. Lee encouraged SFAC to stick with conservative enrollment numbers when they make their final budget decisions

Lorrie Novosad/The Daily Cougar

"Then again, with the economy slowing down, many people I know are losing their jobs. They might be thinking this is a good time to go back to school," Lee said. "We just donit know for sure."

Enrollment was the main concern Lee voiced to SFAC. Enrollment numbers determine the amount of money SFAC has at its disposal. According to Lee and his assistant Diane Murphy, current enrollment stands at 34,443.

According to a report released by the Student Affairs Central Business Office, enrollment furnished SFAC with more than $10.6 million in approved funds for Fiscal Year 2003. For FY04, SFAC must estimate what future enrollment will be before it goes about allocating funds. They do have the luxury of having $1.7 million in reserves. Ideally, most of those dollars would be protected, Lee said.

Projections from the CBO allocated more than $10.7 million for SFAC in FY04, plus more than $500,000 for one-time requests. If enrollment falls below 34,000, and if SFAC uses up its allocation plus the one-time funds to fulfill all the requests, the committee could incur a $178,575 deficit.

For this reason, Lee encouraged the committee to stick with its "commendable" policy of budgeting for generally conservative enrollment numbers to avoid promising funds it cannot provide.

Lee also urged the committee to stay away from the idea of hiking the student service fee, which is currently at $142, including a $20 health center fee, to pull in more funds.

"Another increase, on top of tuition increases and other fee increases … could adversely affect enrollment," Lee said. "Students need time to adjust to the increases already taking place."

Leeis remarks were meant to leave the committee with an overall view of the "atmosphere," as he called it, under which SFAC will make its decisions.

"Weire living in extraordinary times, and itis going to call for extraordinary decisions," he said.

The SFAC begins its closed-door deliberations today when student presidential representative Ed Tulin submits a draft of the SFACis final report. On Friday, the committee will submit the reviewed report to President Arthur K. Smith for final approval.
 

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