Written By: Gwen Kay | President | University Faculty Senate
Past President Pete Knuepfer under whom we changed our fiscal model to reach break-even
The SUNY University Faculty Senate values everyone, even though it is asking your campus for less money for you.
Maybe that sounds odd. Let me explain. UFS “charges” each campus a fee for each senator to cover various costs and expenses. In these tight financial times, we think that the fee might be a hindrance for some campuses to fully participate. Since we want everyone to be as fully involved as possible, the Executive Committee unanimously agreed to lower the fee, which means we value senator so much that we’re trying to make them more valuable (by charging less) to their home campuses during this pandemic.
Your campus pays UFS $6,000 per senator. We use those monies to fund all of our operations (save our office manager’s salary + benefits). To wit, senator charges cover
Travel of the president and vice president when they represent the Senate across SUNY spaces (not much travel in these coronavirus days).
Travel of committee liaisons
Travel for CGLs to attend our plenaries
To put this in context, our costs, therefore our senator charge, had been going up incrementally, and then in the last recession (remember 2008?), we cut back the per-senator charge to $4,000 because we had lots of money in our stabilization account, in excess of $100,000. When Pete Knuepfer was president the funds were being depleted at a somewhat alarming rate because our receivables (also known as campus charges) was nowhere near our actual expenses; we drew about $20,000 each year from the fund. This was part of the master plan to spend down our monies and hover around $25,000 for rainy days.
We also put $25,000 toward the purchase of a car so we could get the car of our dreams rather than whatever SUNY would give us from the motor pool. (For the record: a 2017 Subaru Legacy Sedan, with the critical-in-Upstate-NY all-wheel drive).
We needed a new car for those 2,500 miles per month, but cash was running low. So, as the stabilization funds continued to dwindle, we met with SUNY’s budget people and discussed incrementally ramping our per-senator charge back up so that we'd go from $4,000 to $6,000 over a period of years, increasing by $300 per year, starting is 2017-18. Then, as our stabilization fund dipped dangerously low, all parties agreed to increase our per senator charge sooner than later. This means that last year (2019-2020) our campus charge increased from $4,800 to $6,000.
Fast forward to today, when every campus (and System Administration) is looking for any and all possible ways to save money. We do not know what the future will bring regarding travel. If we cannot all attend meetings in a common physical space we’ll stream it (at an increase in AV costs). Other expenses will increase both for us and the host campus. And, at least for this year with those stringent travel restrictions on our campuses, UFS will need to pick up the costs for everyone traveling to a plenary. (Normally we only cover costs for CGLs plus non-senator Executive Committee members.)
So, for the coming year your campus charge is $4,500, not $6,000.
Your value to UFS? Priceless!
President Gwen Kay in SUNY vehicle saving money using a driver who works for biscuits
UFS Connectsis a forum for SUNY faculty and staff to communicate to the academic community about issues on higher education, shared governance, and other topics of general interest to the community. We encourage submission of articles, essays, and opinion pieces. Please email any stories or story ideas to Pete Knuepfer, acting Chair of the Communications Committee.
The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official positions of the University Faculty Senate.