The budget crisis at San Diego State University is going to get worse before it gets better, and some tenured faculty layoffs are possible next spring, President Thomas Day said Monday.
In his annual Convocation Address to faculty, a traditional kickoff to the academic year that begins Thursday, Day painted a picture even bleaker than most professors and students imagined. He challenged Californians to face the state's "crisis of will" and decide whether they want to pay the cost of offering quality higher education to everyone who qualifies.
Otherwise, the reductions at San Diego State and other California State University campuses will be long-lasting, he said.
A crowd of professors and deans much larger than during past convocations heard Day say he was forgoing his usual "philosophical" greetings and instead would "speak practical."
Day said SDSU will probably be an additional $4 million short, on top of the $19.6 million in state funds it already lacks to pay for the same level of classes and services as last year. The additional shortfall results from merit salaries, and retirement and medical benefits that the CSU system must pay as a result of failing to agree with faculty unions on ways to suspend the benefits.
With almost all 400 part-time and temporary professors already eliminated at SDSU, Day said the university will probably face cuts in tenured faculty for the spring semester. Specifics will await talks between Day and faculty representatives during the next couple of weeks, but Day left little doubt that there will be even fewer courses in the spring. For the fall, 662 classes were slashed, about 12% of those offered last year.
"And that means fewer people," Day said after his speech.
Already, more than 1,100 students have been unable to enroll in any of the classes they need for graduation, and more than 14,000--almost half of the full-time enrollment--have been denied at least one class they want.
"We have more students than the reduced money can support," Day said, adding that by comparing the number of students to the the number of classes, "we are over-enrolled by 12%-15%."
"What tremendous hardship and chaos for students!" Day said, pointing out that the university was only about 5% over-enrolled during the late 1980s when it earned a reputation for crowded classes and long lines.
He warned: "It will get worse this spring."
Day will ask new California State University Chancellor Barry Munitz for authority to limit the number of freshmen and community-college transfers in future years as a way to align enrollment more with available funding.
"I would like the ability to cut off admissions at a certain number," he said after his speech. Now, SDSU must accept all qualified applicants who apply during a given period.
"The key point facing SDSU is always the same--to protect, and increase the quality of the programs that we \o7 do \f7 offer," he said.
Although saying that his speech was "probably not half grim enough," Day referred to SDSU's century-old existence as proof that the university will persevere and maintain its quality "into whatever new size and mode awaits us."
And he held out some hope that the state's budget crisis has "become such a mess that it can no longer be ignored, or twiddled with. The underlying public policy issues have finally surfaced."
The need for California residents to pressure the state Legislature and the governor for support of higher education "is a glimmer of sunshine, a peek at a silver lining," Day said.
Later, Day said that, in the past several weeks, complaints to his office blaming SDSU for the budget crisis have dropped significantly.
"I hope that people are beginning to get the idea that we have a serious statewide public policy problem," he said.