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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

From the President

Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Budget and Facilities Update

As a follow-up to Vice President Barnum’s presentation at Friday’s College Senate meeting, I wanted to share with the campus community an update on our budget rebalancing efforts, as well as a few highlights on upcoming construction and development projects.

Budget Rebalancing
As you know, in 2018, we charted a path to reduce our campuswide expenditures by $7 million over a three-year period. In year one, the goal was to reduce expenditures by $1.4 million, with $2.8 million reductions scheduled in both years two (2018–2019) and three (2019–2020). Each vice presidential area was assigned rebalancing targets for years one, two, and three, respectively—targets that were based on how our instructional and administrative costs compared with those of our SUNY peer campuses.

Last spring, we reported that our two-year total projected revenue reduction was approximately $6.17 million, which was $1.97 million ahead of our two-year target of $4.2 million. Each division has provided plans to complete the final and most difficult phase (year three) of the rebalancing effort, and we remain optimistic that we will reach our collective $7 million rebalancing goal.

Nevertheless, looking ahead, we have more work to do. Our three-year rebalancing plan was rooted in a series of revenue and expenditure assumptions. While our assumptions regarding modest tuition increases, flat state tax support, and negotiated salary increases have held true, our rebalancing model was built on a flat enrollment environment that was not realized.

Consequently, the declines in our overall enrollment in both fall 2018 and fall 2019 have created an estimated fiscal deficit of at least $3.4 million in 2019–2020. We are evaluating the enrollment and occupancy numbers for spring 2020 and expect that there may be a larger drop-off than anticipated, which may add to the 2019–2020 fiscal deficit.

However, it is important to note that last year at this time, we were projecting a $3.8 million fiscal deficit in 2018–2019. We fully closed that gap, thanks to careful spending and the acceleration of one-time funds from New York State to cover the first retroactive payment of UUP’s negotiated salary increases—thereby eliminating the need to tap into reserves last year. We’re hopeful that pattern will continue. If advocacy efforts are successful over the next six weeks and one-time funding for reimbursement of the second UUP retroactive salary increase payment is provided to SUNY during state budget negotiations—and if our careful spending continues—we can greatly reduce the need to draw from reserves this year.  

As we close out our three-year rebalancing model and look toward our next three-year budget plan, a new Strategic Resource Planning Process will help guide us through our ever-changing fiscal reality. Going forward, we will leverage data and information in real time to inform our decisions on how to best align our fiscal sources and expenditures. We will continue to strive to deliver on our mission and achieve our strategic goals while making every effort to insulate our students from the impact of any necessary budget adjustments.

As we all adjust to this new landscape, I recognize that our working and teaching environments have changed. Despite these new challenges, I am encouraged and uplifted by the dedication that you, our wonderful faculty and staff members, show each day as we work to help our students realize brighter futures. I thank you for your contributions and remain confident that, together, we will thrive.

Vice President Barnum will provide an update on the Strategic Resource Planning Process, as well as budget projections for 2020–2021, at the May meeting of the College Senate. I will share an overview of her report with you in the Daily Bulletin following her presentation.

Facilities Update
During the facilities portion of her report, Vice President Barnum provided a number of updates on capital projects in the planning and design phase, projects that are nearing completion, and projects that will begin this summer.

Of note, planning continues in earnest on renovations to Building 50, which is located across Grant Street adjacent to Lots G-20 and G-22. Building 50 will be the new home of University Police and our Campus Operations Center. UPD’s current home in Chase Hall, a former residence hall, presents a number of challenges to response times (due to truck traffic in the Student Union loading zone), visibility, and operational and accreditation standards. By relocating UPD to Building 50, we will improve overall response times, provide a reassuring presence along Grant Street for our campus community and neighbors, and create a more professional and useful physical environment for our officers.

Planning and design efforts are also underway for renovations to the Classroom Building and Tower 2, while we have commenced a study to evaluate needs for new outdoor athletic fields and student life space in Moore Hall.

In the short term, we are all excited about the upcoming opening of the Academic Commons in Butler Library later this semester and the culmination of the Science and Mathematics Complex this summer.

Also, this summer, two infrastructure projects will begin that will temporarily affect parking and travel around campus. Phase two of renovations to Iroquois Drive will require road closures and detours to accommodate construction. About 200 parking spots in Lot I-39 will be offline during the project. On the south side of campus, phase one of the Central Heating Plant reconstruction project begins this summer. Roughly 50 to 75 parking spaces in Lot R-12 will be offline during this project.

If you have questions or concerns about the impacts of construction, please contact Finance and Management at

Lastly, Vice President Barnum also provided a brief update on the Dart Street Project and the Designated Developer Agreement with the City of Buffalo. BSCR Corporation received multiple responses to our request for proposals (RFP) in December. We plan to share qualified proposals during a public exhibition to garner further feedback and input from the campus and greater communities. We will share details for the public exhibition soon.