March 17, 2010 Vlog

Transcription, by Phyllis Rogers, GIS

Kim Pudans-Smith
Hi, I'm Kim Pudans-Smith and I'm vice chair of the GSC, the Gallaudet Staff Council. At our last meeting, we discussed a range of topics and one of the topics that arose was the UBC. People were not sure what the UBC was all about, so we've asked Fred Weiner, who is chair of the UBC, here in order to ask him some questions about the UBC and get more information, so that' show we'll proceed. Fred, thank you for coming.

Fred Weiner
I'm happy to be here.

Kim Pudans-Smith
Can you tell us about the UBC, what is it exactly?

Fred Weiner
Sure. The abbreviation "UBC" stands for the University Budget Committee. It was first established by the president and has been in existence for more than 10 years. There are different members on the UBC, within two different categories. The first group is comprised of representatives from different areas such as academic affairs, administration and finance, and the Clerc Center. The other part of UBC is a group of people who deal in finance, who have financial knowledge. We all come together and meet as a group every year.

Kim Pudans-Smith
Did you mean that the membership only includes representatives from academic affairs, the vice president, the Clerc Center and financial professionals? It doesn't include anyone else like...

Fred Weiner
Oh yes, we have others-each division, which includes academic affairs, administration and finance, the Clerc Center, and the president's office, have representatives. Also we have representatives from GSC-GSC has two representatives, and there are two faculty representatives, and a few others. If you go to budget.gallaudet.edu, there is a list of members. We also have an SBG representative, and one from GSA, so there are many representatives.

Kim Pudans-Smith
So it includes representation from all of Gallaudet. That's great.

Fred Weiner
Yes.

Kim Pudans-Smith
Now, I'd like to ask about the purpose of the UBC.

Fred Weiner
Sure. UBC's role is to help-our charge is to make recommendations to the president. This year, the UBC is asked to do so for the president and the cabinet. We get our information, review it, and submit it. It goes to the board for final approval. That's the last step. The purpose of the UBC is really to develop the budget for the upcoming year. That means we start October 1st. We have to look carefully at how much revenue we will take in, and that includes the federal appropriation, and tuition, and other revenue such as from food services, the book store, or VRS. All of these are combined to provide us with a total amount, and then we look at how we will spend it. It's really important that we plan for the upcoming year. We wouldn't want to be in a situation where we think our revenue is going to be very high, and then we spend accordingly. That would be a mistake. We also wouldn't want to make predictions that are too low. To manage our expenses, we have to make an accurate prediction. Some people think that the UBC oversees each unit and their practices. It's not like that. We take a much higher level view of the overall revenue and that is allocated to each division as well as to buildings and improvements. So, it's a very high level view. Then, each vice president is tasked with oversight of managing their budgets.

Kim Pudans-Smith
When you say each division, who are you talking about?

Fred Weiner:
The divisions are academic affairs, so that's the provost. Administration and Finance, so that's the Vice President. Then you have the Clerc Center, the President's office-and there are a few others included within the President's office. Really that's the CIO, the Chief Information Officer organization- a combination of different groups. So, those are the divisions. They ensure daily operations such as payroll, expenditures for travel, and programs. A budget is also allocated for buildings and improvements. Monies are allocated for many different areas and items.

Kim Pudans-Smith
The major decision makers are those 5.

Fred Weiner
I would say so

Kim Pudans-Smith
The UBC takes a look at the budget and decides how much is allocated to each of those 5 divisions. Then, each division decides what to do with the money they have been allocated.

Fred Weiner
Yes-how to spend the money. And as far as the major decision makers, the UBC is charged with making sure that, well, for example in your home, or in mine-I look at my own salary and of course I figure out what that means for next year and I budget accordingly. I make decisions about whether or not I can afford a vacation. Or, I make decisions about what to spend on the house, or the car. The UBC looks at the big picture, on a broad scale and then that money is provided to divisions. You are right that the heads of these divisions are responsible to then figure out how to spend and manage that budget. The Board of Trustees emphasized a few important things. One was that the budget must be balanced. That means you may want to spend more, but if the revenue is limited then so is the spending. You can't just increase spending. You have to follow the budget. Secondly, we must follow Gallaudet's strategic plan. That means that division heads must have a plan and when money is provided, they each have to consider how to meet their planned goals. Thirdly, an important point I want to emphasize is that we have many buildings on campus and from an accounting perspective; the value of those buildings depreciates each year, as the buildings become older. You have to spend in order to keep the value level. If the value declines, that's not good. That's why it's important, and why you sometimes see, that we spend money on renovations. It's important. People wonder why we spend there instead of on operations, but the two things are really separate.

Kim Pudans-Smith
Speaking of the Gallaudet Strategic Plan, the GSP had two important priorities, recruitment and retention. What does recruitment and retention have to do with the budget?

Fred Weiner:
Ok, sure. Sure. Before I discuss that, however, I want to emphasize something about the revenue issue. I think it's important for people to understand that first. You know that president Obama announced this past January in his state of the union address that money for different programs in the US, or domestic spending, should be flat for three years. That means 2011, 2012 and 2013. We hoped there might be some small increases, but that's doubtful. The appropriation is the largest part of our budget, and that's predicted to be flat. Then, the endowment revenues are dependent on the investment earnings, and the stock market right now is not doing that well. So, depending on that growth is questionable. There are other smaller areas of revenue, but large growth is hard. That's what we see. The strategic plan means looking at some new opportunities for revenue for the university because our budget is otherwise limited. We have to seek out ways to bring in other income for the university, so there is a revenue challenge there, and accordingly that makes for a challenge with expenditures as well. If the revenue is limited, then so is the spending. It's important for people to recognize that, while they might wish they had more money, our expenditures must be in line with our revenue. That will be a challenge for the next several years.

Kim Pudans-Smith
It's interesting in speaking of revenue; we have the federal appropriation, the endowment, tuition, and a number of others. Can you give me an example of what those others are?

Fred Wiener:
Well our number one largest revenue source is, of course, the federal appropriation. As a percentage of our revenue, that has started to slowly drop over time. It's limited. Our second largest revenue source is tuition. That's why enrollment is important. Thirdly, we have our endowment. We take in a percentage of interest, regularly, and as I said that's limited. Other revenue sources contribute a bit. For example, VRS. Video Relay services, in partnership with Gallaudet, provide revenue. So, that's important to continue. Also, the book store, and food services, as well as CPSO, GU publications-these are examples which are not large individually but which in combination do help us. As of now, we have our eye on getting that tuition. We know our federal appropriation is limited. So, we have to look at these smaller sources of revenue and begin to increase those and be more aggressive. That's part of the strategic plan.

Kim Pudans-Smith
It's tough because we are in a bad economy. That's happening not only at Gallaudet but all over. When we try to increase enrollment, it means we could increase tuition. But if we do that, we don't bring in more students. So, we better keep the same tuition. We don't have the option.

Fred Weiner
It's a challenge. Its' not only us, but that's true for other colleges and universities as well. Some colleges and universities, like the university of California system, increased their tuition by 30 %. The response was very negative, both from students and faculty. Gallaudet has not made an increase yet, but I do not know if we will in the future or not. That's really a Board of Trustees decision.

Kim Pudans-Smith
That's not a UBC decision?

Fred Weiner:
The UBC makes a recommendation but the Board makes the final decision. In the past, since tuition has been flat, one of the challenges related to our tuition is that a lot of support comes from Vocational Rehabilitation, from many different states. If we increase our tuition, it in turn impacts those agencies and it might be too costly for them. We have to think carefully, so it's a big challenge.

Kim Pudans-Smith
Now that Gallaudet has made these allocations, I understand that a large amount went to interpreting and CART services. I'm wondering why that is important? After all, Gallaudet is a signing community.

Fred Weiner:
I want to emphasize that the money going to interpreting and CART was not the largest. There were much other larger expenditures. The number one is payroll, and that has increased over the past few years so that's one of the challenges we have. But that aside, other expenditures include renovations to buildings, utilities, as well as interpreting and CART. You asked me about interpreting and CART, and yes the expenses have started to increase. For Gallaudet, it's very important to be ready and able to provide those services because if you look at the students we are recruiting, a large percentage of students are from residential schools. More than half of the students are from schools for the deaf.

Kim Pudans-Smith
You mean who come to Gallaudet?

Fred Weiner:
Yes, coming to Gallaudet. It is a large number and that s fine. But if we look at the US, 86% of the deaf students now are mainstreamed. Considering that and looking to the future, if we are to grow, we have to figure out how to draw mainstream students. That means we must have a university that is welcoming. Some mainstream students do not sign well or don't know sign language. They might be fearful of coming to Gallaudet. From my understanding, some were raised this way. It was not their decision, but if they now decide to come to Gallaudet and I think that demonstrates their ambition. Then, we need to provide them with access. We need to connect them with interpreting services so that their communication can progress. We have to build a bridge between their mainstream experience and coming to Gallaudet. I'm sure they still feel connected to that mainstream experience and if so that's great. We have things to offer them here too. So, one of the reasons is for communication access. Another reason is that access demands are increasing is for internship opportunities for our students. These are increasing.

Kim Pudans-Smith
That's true.

Fred Weiner:
For students majoring in education, to become teachers, they go on practicum experiences. These needs are dramatically increasing. That's why the costs have skyrocketed. It's not only for Gallaudet internally but our students have more opportunities external to Gallaudet as well. The Gallaudet Strategic Plan calls for even more internships, more consortiums, and more outreach. That means we really do have to allocate monies for communication access.

Kim Pudans-Smith
So when you say that money is allocated for CART and interpreting, is that a prediction

Fred Weiner
As we move forward, it increases over time.

Kim Pudans-Smith
Probably

Fred Weiner
That's what we predict

Kim Pudans-Smith
I understand

Fred Weiner
We have to be ready now. I mean, again, I'll give you an example. Suppose you borrow money for a house, and you have what is called an ARM. You borrow now with a low interest rate. Over time it will increase. You can't just ignore that. You have to be ready for it. You have to plan. So, the UBC's purpose is to make those predictions next year, two years, three years, and four years down the road. That's our responsibility.

Kim Pudans-Smith
In the UBC report I was shocked to see the electric bills. Those are ridiculous. From 2003 to 2008, the increase was 97%! Is there any way we can control that? Is there anything we can do to reduce it?

Fred Weiner
Yes, that's really a challenge, and again, I like to make the comparison between Gallaudet and a home. I'm sure you've seen your own electric and gas bills go up. Well. Me too. I'm startled by what I see on my bill. So, those utilities have gone up. It's not only in this area, at Gallaudet, but all over the country. One challenge that Gallaudet has is because we are a historical institution. That means that many of our buildings are old, and can't be torn down. They must be preserved. That being the case, how can we go about saving energy? But, I do want to let you know that Gallaudet is working on this issue.

Kim Pudans-Smith
Oh great!

Fred Weiner
The facilities department, the people there, and academic affairs, and administration and finance are working together to investigate ways whereby we can make changes over the long term. If we want to change our heating and cooling system, it would mean a huge expenditure. Whether or not that would result in saving money over time has to be analyzed carefully and in great depth. As individuals, I'm sure that we can each find ways to save. When you leave the office, turn off the lights. Things like that are so simple, but, it helps. Computers, and other things that consume energy-well, it's the same idea as what you would do at home to try to save money-try to do that at Gallaudet too.

Kim Pudans-Smith
I see. It's the same principal. That's a good comparison. We all know that Gallaudet has recently been through a difficult time. Is Gallaudet the only university to go through this experience?

Fred Weiner
Unfortunately, many universities are going through the same thing. I am sure not all of them, but for example Brown university had a huge faculty and staff lay off.

Kim Pudans-Smith
Really!

Fred Weiner
Yes, over 200 people

Kim Pudans-Smith
Oh! That's terrible!

Fred Weiner
So, these things are tough. It's tough. Obviously, any organization prefers not to do things like that. And, again, we look to the future to ask whether the budget we have is going to continue and be sustainable. Can we continue on if we are not careful with the budget? Payroll, not only for Gallaudet but for any university, is the largest expense. That means if we want to continue to give our employees pay increases, we have to know where the money is going to come from. It doesn't mean any increases, it just means that we have to find ways to allow for increases, and this year, I really don't know, and in coming years, you know-there are a lot of challenges. There are a lot of policy questions. That's where, again, the UBC's role is to look at the budget, present that situation, and that's where I think the president's cabinet has to discuss what to do for the future and how to do it. And, then present that to the Board of Trustees, because the Board approves pay decisions.

Kim Pudans-Smith
So, in the current situation, the UBC sent out to all divisions the information about the predicted revenue and expenses. That's been done this year.

Fred Weiner
Yes

Kim Pudans-Smith
And they will give it to us, the GSC, and we need to ask our community how we can help with the Gallaudet budget. How will our staff input be important to Gallaudet?

Fred Weiner
Yes, that's a good question. I'm glad you asked that. You are right, the budget is huge and complicated and we don't expect GSC or the faculty to address the entire budget, but when it comes to your area of concern, I would imagine one area of concern is pay. So, what I'm curious about, because GSC is an elected group representing the staff of Gallaudet, I want to hear from GSC what your views are on issues such as pay. If the budget is flat, that's one thing, but if it is not, what other options are there? You could provide a sense of how the community feels. Other issues that may be of interest are not related to pay, but maybe travel and use of resources, like energy. Could the GSC come up with ways to reduce energy, really pushing it, educating, getting behind the effort. What can be done by staff? What they are eager to do? What they are concerned about? Those are the things I want to hear.

Kim Pudans-Smith
I think you have already answered a lot of our questions. I really appreciate that. GSC, as he just said, now needs to collect all of your ideas, feedback, and input. Send that to us. We need all of that information by March 23rd. Email this information to the GSC chair, GSC.chair@gallaudet.edu. Nick will manage and gather this information. All of your names will remain confidential. He is the only one who will know and he will take all of the information and summarize it and present it to the UBC, his committee. They will discuss it by March 25th, is that right?

Fred Weiner
Yes

Kim Pudans-Smith
So, any input or ideas will be greatly appreciated. Many thanks.

Fred Weiner
You are welcome.

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