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Student Affairs budget cut proposals announced at 'Town Meeting'

STANFORD -- Students who attended the first of four "Town Meetings" on possible budget reductions Wednesday, Feb. 16, were told that the centers for minority students will almost certainly be spared any major reductions.

"There has been a lot of publicity about what the university expects the centers to do," said Dean of Students Michael Jackson. "Let the headline read that the centers are not going to be emasculated as a result of this process."

The town meeting outlined the proposed reorganization and budget cuts of Student Affairs.

Jackson's area, which includes the ethnic centers, faces the deepest cuts, of 15 to 20 percent in the next academic year. Most of that would come from reducing the overhead and increasing the revenue at Tresidder Memorial Student Union. To do that, Tresidder, which houses a number of retail outlets, could be put under outside management, Jackson said. Tresidder currently operates on a budget base of about $2.9 million, of which $1.4 million is a subsidy from the operating budget.

Since the holiday break, supporters of the centers for minorities have staged demonstrations based on the provost's request that they and every other department on campus propose what they would do if their budgets were cut 5 or 10 percent for the 1994-95 academic year. Provost Condoleezza Rice emphasized that the request was a planning exercise, not mandated cuts, and that choices would be made from the cuts proposed.

Those preliminary choices in Student Affairs were unveiled in the meeting.

Besides ending operating budget subsidies to Tresidder, Jackson said, the proposed reorganization calls for functions of the Network for Student Information to be transferred to the Stanford Data Center, and Jackson's area to take over the New Student Orientation functions.

Early on, Provost Rice reminded attendees that the latest round of budget cuts were not intended to be across-the-board by percentage, as they had been in previous years.

"All that happens in across-the-board cuts is that everybody gets weaker," she said.

Rice and Mary Edmonds, vice provost for student affairs, also said that in certain areas, decisions could not be made at present. For instance, impending changes in health care at Stanford and at the national level made it difficult to resolve future budgets for the Cowell Student Health Center.

Also, units such as the Undergraduate Advising Center, Career Planning and Placement Center, and Center for Teaching and Learning are currently being scrutinized by the Commission on Undergraduate Education. Until that commission issues its report later this year, Rice said, all that would be considered in those areas was "maybe some restructuring and belt-tightening."

And it was announced that the budget for the Haas Center for Public Service, most of which does not come from the university's operating budget, probably will take only a tiny cut.

Edmonds said that if Rice asked her to shave 5 percent from the Student Affairs $16.2 million annual budget (not including student financial aid money), the result would be a $810,000 trim. The 10 percent scenario would have Edmonds losing $1.6 million from next year's budget.

Scenarios reflecting both levels of reduction were given to Rice with a cover note that read: "Presented with faith, hope and we're praying for charity," Edmonds said.

Edmonds also said that in the recently announced proposed restructuring of Student Affairs, the number of direct reports to Edmonds would decrease from 14 to six, making the organization more efficient administratively. Also, a proposed new position, that of associate vice provost, was eliminated, as was a vacant clerical position. Edmonds said she foresaw reducing the Student Affairs central administrative budget by about 18 percent next year.

Edmonds also said that a hiring freeze she had imposed during the planning stages would be lifted on a case-by-case basis. So far, an exemption was made to allow hiring a successor to Jim Larimore, assistant dean of students and head of the American Indian Program Office.

Unit by unit

James Montoya, director of undergraduate admissions, said his office would save 7 percent through its merger with graduate financial aid, consolidation of some administrative functions, and streamlining mailings to prospective appplicants. Currently, he said, his office sends packages to about 50,000 students a year. Of those, he said, 15,000 apply, 2,900 are offered admission and 1,700 enroll.

"We want to improve the ratio of inquirants to applicants," he said.

Reduction of outreach programs, he said, "was taken off the table," as were proposed cuts to the transfer program, because of the integral role both play in increasing diversity in the student body.

Dr. Ira Friedman, the new director of Cowell, said his unit was prepared to offer a 1.3 percent cut next year, and that "there shouldn't be any layoffs."

Roger Printup, registrar, announced how his newly enlarged unit proposed a cut in the 3.8 to 3.9 percent range.

"That's not anywhere near as scary as 15 to 30 percent," he noted. Printup said most of his target could be met via streamlining, combining administrative functions within the areas that report to him. The Undergraduate Advising Center, Career Planning and Placement Center, and Center for Teaching and Learning now report to Edmonds through Printup.

Timothy Stanton, director of the Haas Center for Public Service, explained how only 20 percent of the center's budget comes from university funds; 70 percent comes from restricted gifts and 10 percent from the Haas endowment.

"We're prepared to lose one half of one staff position," he said. "We could do this without layoffs."

Questions, answers

Following the presentations, which consumed one of the two allotted hours for the meeting, people were invited to ask questions in person or submit them on slips of paper.

Jewell Hudson, an office coordinator with the Associated Students Legal Counseling Office, expressed fears that increased reliance on retail activity at Tresidder could cause the student union to lose some of its community focus. Jackson said the union already supports a good deal of retail, and that attempts to bring in more business may be made. But, he said, Student Affairs would ensure continued activities for students and that Tresidder couldn't really become a full-blown shopping center anyway because of long periods of "down time," such as in the summer and at break periods.

Elizabeth Hiyama, assistant director of residential education, said she was frustrated because staff below a certain level were not made to feel part of the budget planning process, as they have in past rounds of cuts. Hiyama also said many staff felt that directors had been ordered outright not to discuss proposed reductions with anyone below the level of director.

Within Student Affairs, Edmonds said, the process "did not go down to the level it had in the past," and that it was primarily the responsibility of directors and consultants.

Junior Matthew Mizel also said he felt left out.

"Part of the reason that students are so suspicious of what's going on is that [there] were no students or faculty on the committee" that decided Student Affairs' future.

"This is not a committee," Rice said, waving to the lineup of department heads and Edmonds. "These are the unit heads that run these organizations."

Near the end of the meeting, Rice again spoke out against another year of across-the-board cuts, which may be perceived as more egalitarian but which Rice felt had proven ineffective.

"We have to keep pushing the envelope in teaching and research," Rice said. "[Across the board cuts are] no way to run an institution, especially an academic institution. If an academic dean came to me today and said, 'I've got the greatest idea since the silicon chip, can you support me?,' I don't think I could.

"I came out of the study of a country [the former Soviet Union] that tried to centralize its planning for the future, and it collapsed under its own weight a few years ago," Rice said.

The next meeting, concerning Faculty and Staff services, will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, in Kresge. Two future meetings are scheduled, one concerned with finance and the other with libraries and information resources. Several students asked for a second meeting on student issues, and Rice said that would be taken into consideration.



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