Open Forum Accounts for Campus Budget Concerns

Open Forum Accounts for Campus Budget Concerns
President Ortiz talks about the campus impact of the state budget.
Ed Barnes answers questions from faculty, staff and students during the open forum.

In light of the economic downtown and uncertainty with the state budget, the university held a special budget forum March 19 to update the campus on the budget, measures taken to reduce spending, address concerns and take suggestions. More than 600 people attended the meeting, which was led by President Michael Ortiz and Vice President of Administrative Affairs Ed Barnes.

Because Cal Poly Pomona's financial team had recognized a possible economic downturn three years, ago, the university began preparing for reduced spending. Thanks to that foresight, the university is in a better financial situation than some other state agencies.

“We're in a good position because we planned. We're in a good position because we knew the budget was going to be bad,” Ortiz said.

Avoiding furloughs and layoffs of permanent faculty and staff is his top priority, Ortiz announced. He and Barnes added the campus will follow a 4/10 schedule this summer.

Barnes pointed out upcoming events that will have an impact on the state budget — the federal stimulus package, the six propositions on the May 19 statewide special election and the governor's May budget revise. The university will monitor those events and their impact on campus.

During the forum, a number of attendees offered ideas on how the university can save money. A couple of people suggested using electronic communications over paper flyers. Others advocated more recycling.

The university spends about $9 million annually on utilities, according to George Lwin, manager of energy services. That amount can easily be cut by 5 to 10 percent if each person helps out by turning off lights and unused equipment or turning up the thermostat a few degrees.

Students also raised concerns about fee increases. Ortiz said the budget reductions will be difficult for everyone to maintain quality with fewer resources. Reorganizing and reassigning responsibilities may be a solution, and departments may be able to fill “mission-critical” positions.

Since 2003, the increase in MPP positions has been negligible, according to Ortiz. He also pointed out that not all MPP positions are alike; for instance, some are construction project managers whose terms end with the completion of a project. University Advancement, where MPP positions have increased, he said, may help save the university as the division prepares a capital campaign.

“That campaign will transform the face of this institution,” Ortiz said. “It will drive Cal Poly Pomona toward the future, not only by raising funds but also by distinguishing Cal Poly Pomona, its students and its faculty.”

A number of people expressed concern about the recent Presidential Order, which requires faculty and staff to use Cal Poly Pomona Foundation services, and the increased costs associated with the order.

Paul Storey, executive director of the Foundation, said they're looking at different ways to lower prices. Unlike commerical businesses, such as Albertsons and Staples, the Foundation does not have the same volume of business to offer the same type of discounts. On the other hand, outside businesses answer to corporate stakeholders, while the Foundation's mission is to advance the university. Storey reported that about two-thirds of generated surplus goes back to the university, including $3 million to student clubs last year.

Ortiz and Barnes emphasized the importance of investing money in the university because those resources will return. The Foundation is the largest employer of students on campus and gives money back to the university and students. Investing in it not only saves jobs, but it also helps prices remain competitive.

For more information about the budget, visit Anyone with additional questions or suggestions to save money should e-mail The university plans to hold a second special budget forum in May. Additional details will be provided through PolyCentric as they are firmed.