By Quinlyn Manfull
On Wednesday, April 11, the Student Budget Advisory Committee (SBAC) and senior administrators joined students to go over changes to the budget for the next academic year. In an effort to be more transparent after student protest regarding the Bishop decision last summer, Vice President of Finance Dan Valles, Senior Vice President Carol Long, CLA Dean Ruth Feingold and Vice President of Student Affairs Ed Whipple presented what their budgets would look like next year and their own budget process.
Associated Students of Willamette University (ASWU) President Jack Wellman opened the conversation referencing the improvements that have been made in the budget process since last year, and the importance of the SBAC. The presentation was split into two main issues: the process and each unit’s main changes.
Valles presented on the budget planning process and how it has changed from previous years: “more sharing at the leadership level for what people were proposing,” as well as a change in data collection that provides leadership with more realistic numbers of incoming class size.
Both student elected representatives and students at large came with questions for administrators. ASWU President-Elect Akerah Mackey asked about a shortage of courses open to rising Juniors in multiple departments, namely Politics and Psychology, to which A student at large asked about the Compass program which will not be offered to first-years next fall.
Feingold presented prominent changes to the CLA, which dictated a large portion of the forum’s time. With questions ranging from who to talk to when you can’t get into a class you need to graduate, to fees associated with arts and fitness classes. With the shrinking class sized Willamette has been seeing, Dean Feingold discussed what that means in terms of departmental shrinking and less hiring of adjunct professors. Foreign language assistants have been shrunk, the Debate Union is losing international travel, and we are only hiring faculty where there is an imminent need such as in Statistics.
VP Long spoke for a much shorter time regarding cuts to the library, balancing costs in the Office of International Education as less students study abroad, and increasing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion spending.
VP Whipple spoke to programs in Student Affairs such as an educational and prevention based drug, alcohol, and gender-based violence programs which Whipple emphasizes as an inter-departmental effort. The major point of contention in Whipple’s part of the presentation was his mention of not refilling the Director of Community Service Learning position. A student at large, representing student leaders at CSL, spoke to how “dismayed and confused,” her and the Office were.
“It appears as though the decision was made without much consideration of how our programs will be able to sustain themselves, or how we as student leaders will be able to carry the programs without excessive stress and responsibility.” VP Whipple responded only with a request to get a copy of the letter the student was reading from.
VP Long and VP Whipple spoke to their hope for the future of CSL in the new position that Career Development is currently hiring – the Internship Coordinator which will work with CSL. Students still shared their lack of faith and dismay with this change.
VP Whipple also emphasized the cuts to the athletics and campus recreation departments where coaching staff is getting reduced.
VP Valles wrapped up this forum with a discussion on the number of vacancies in university services and how hard it has been to fill these service and supply vacancies. Some increases in our Budget are the new counselor for Bishop and a 2% salary increase for all staff except VPs and Deans. There were no budget related lay-offs for next year.
The Board of Trustees will vote to approve the budget when they meet in May. Until then, ASWU, SBAC, and Unit Heads will continue this conversation attempting to loop in the student body at large as often as possible.