Forum on Summer '09 Highlights Serious Budget Issues

Forum on Summer '09 Highlights Serious Budget Issues
President Ortiz talks about the state budget.
About 350 students attended the open forum.
Guillermo Nicdao asks a question during the forum.

At a forum to address students' questions and concerns about summer quarter, President Michael Ortiz painted the big picture of a deteriorating state budget. Due to insufficient revenues, services and government offices throughout California are facing major cuts and/or elimination.

Cal Poly Pomona's budget outlook is worse than just a few weeks ago, Ortiz said to an audience of about 350 students. For more than a year, the university had prepared for a $7 million to $8 million budget shortfall through salary freezes for management employees, restricted travel, limited spending and a soft hiring freeze. However, Ortiz learned at a Chancellor's meeting June 3 that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest proposal would reduce Cal Poly Pomona's budget by $20 million to $35 million for the 2009-10 academic year.

“In order to get the university to survive through fall quarter, I had to do something,” Ortiz said at the forum on June 11 in the Bronco Student Center. “There are going to be some tough decisions that we're going to have to make.”

Ortiz referenced an article in the Los Angeles Times about Schwarzenegger's warning that he might be forced to shut down state government in July. Ortiz also pointed to a memo from UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy White warning of the likelihood of furloughs, a faculty hiring freeze, reduction in faculty and an increase in teaching workloads, reduction in staff, reduction in students, and the consolidation and/or elimination of programs at his campus.

“While I cannot predict any or all of these things for Cal Poly Pomona, it is safe to assume that we face similar difficult decisions in the coming weeks,” Ortiz said.

Cancelling state-supported summer classes alone will not close the university's budget gap. Ortiz said that the move might save $6 million to $7 million, and that the budget cuts will continue to affect the entire campus in the upcoming academic year.

During the two-hour forum, students voiced their frustrations and asked how the cancellation of state-supported summer courses would affect their individual college plans.

To support student graduation requirements, the university will offer fee-based summer courses through the College of the Extended University beginning July 13. As departments approve their course offerings in the next couple of weeks, the list will be updated on BroncoDirect, with the finalized schedule available on June 29.

Administrators could not guarantee whether specific courses would be available through the CEU, but they encouraged students to consult with their academic advisers, department chairs and deans to find solutions to their individual problems. University officials also said they would also work with students on housing, financial aid, internships and registration.

Vice President for Student Affairs Doug Freer announced that the university will give priority access for fall quarter schedule adjustments through BroncoDirect on Aug. 10 to students who were originally enrolled in summer quarter. Upper division students will have priority, followed by lower division students. The schedule adjustment period will be open to the general campus on Aug. 11 and will continue for two weeks.

The Summer '09 website has information about the CEU courses, refunds, enrollment, frequently asked questions and more background information on the budget situation.