Senate tables SGA resolution

Adriane Hardin

Unbudgeted revenues from enrollment growth are still hanging in an awkward balance for the University Senate.

The senate has not decided whether it will make a recommendation to the administration that unbudgeted money from enrollment growth be spent on hiring full-time faculty, as SGA resolution proposed.

The senate has tabled the resolution twice since the Student Government Association passed it in October.

“We had a very long meeting, I guess in December … and felt that it needed some more work,” senate chair Doug Smith said.

This “new” money comes from tuition and fees each year.

The university bases its budget for the following year on an estimate of the number of students expected to attend that fall. If more students attend than originally estimated, extra revenue comes to the university. That money has no permanent home in the budget.

Since Western’s enrollment growth has continued the past few years, administrators have been holding on to the money in case the university suffers state budget cuts.

“That money is up to the discretion, to, I guess, the president,” Smith said. “And this year the president put three million of it, quite a bit of it, into a fund which is set aside to go back to the state.”

If all of the extra money does not go toward budget cuts, SGA is proposing that the remaining money go toward hiring new faculty members.

Senate has asked SGA to revise the resolution because the wording says all future revenue increases would go toward hiring new faculty, instead of just part of the extra money.

“I think that what’s going on is that we’re trying to be real sure that in asking for a redirection in money that we don’t leave something out,” Smith said.

The unbudgeted revenue from enrollment growth would potentially go to cover the shortfall from that budget cut, Smith said.

The state is asking Western to give back about 3 percent of its budget to help deal with a state budget shortfall. Western will face another 5.2 percent budget cut next year.

The senate told Troy Ransdell, one of the authors of the resolution and SGA member, that the wording used in their resolution was too vague.

“I think that the details of this resolution have yet to be worked out,” Smith said. “And so the University Senate has been unsure of what it’s being asked to pass. Once those details become clear, then we’ll have a better idea about whether we want to pass it or not.”

The resolution states that “all future increases in funds not currently budgeted by the university should be allocated towards academic instruction.”

Ransdell and other SGA members plan to rewrite the resolution. They will present the revised edition at the next senate meeting.

Provost Barbara Burch said the first priority with unbudgeted tuition revenue has to be instructional support for students.

“I am not suggesting that is the only thing the money be used for or that it is the only need,” Burch said.

Smith said there is always a fear that the university might not have enough money for other areas, like the library.

“It’s a good thing for the resolution that it is being tabled rather than just dismissed,” he said. “I think the majority of faculty are interested in the proposition.”

The recommendation of the senate may be important to the sticking power of SGA’s resolution when it is brought to the administration.

“(President Gary Ransdell) might give more weight to ideas that the University Senate proposes or agrees to,” said Bob Bell, another author of the resolution and SGA member.

Reach Adriane Hardin at [email protected]