Questions were answered and a debate was raised at CSUB budget forum

: Dylan Bryant

Assistant News Editor

The campus-wide budget forum hosted by President Horace Mitchell on March 6 has given fuel to a fiery conversation amongst faculty and administrators about our university’s priorities and spending habits.

Faculty, administrators, and students of CSU Bakersfield gathered in the Multipurpose Room of the Student Union to attend the annual budget forum. While in most years, faculty and others only had limited access to budget details, this year is different.

As a result of conversations with the Academic Senate and other faculty, this year the campus community will be provided detailed budget information.

“I think we are going firmly in the right direction as far as transparency goes,” said Deborah Boschini, chair of both the Academic Senate and the nursing department.
Vice President of Business and Administrative Services Thom Davis gave a presentation walk-through of the new Budget Central page on the CSUB website.

On that page, the campus community will be able to access net operating budget reports for each fiscal year, as well as other budget information from the Academic Senate.
“It’s very transparent. All the data, literally, is there,” said Davis.

The campus community will now also have access to an online reporting tool called Questica. On that website, more detailed budget information for each year will be available.
According to Davis, in Questica

one would be able to go to a department page and look at various expenses such as printing costs or others.

The availability of this data was welcomed by faculty and the candor of the budget information relieved many concerns.

However, the information that was revealed led to further questions and complaints. For example, one faculty member was concerned to find that junior administrators and peripheral administrators appear to be paid more than most full-time faculty members.

“I will speak for myself, but I think it represents a lot of the faculty’s perspective. What we hope to do is compare ourselves to other campuses,” said Dr. John Tarjan, an associate professor of management, and a member of the Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee.

Tarjan was concerned about how much money is being reallocated to lower prioritized areas, away from learning. He believes that the majority of the faculty suspects this to be the case.
“Ten percent of our state budget, if you define that as student fees, plus state allocation, goes to athletics. [That is] out of proportion to other CSU’s in terms of benchmarking,” Tarjan also said.

Bocshini was glad to see that so many faculty members participated in the forum and shared their concerns.

“There’s been a lot of interest in this topic, and I just want to say thank you for the shared governance and the collegiality that we’ve been shown,” said Boschini.
“We’re going to continue doing what we’re doing, and continue the collaboration to make sure that our campus has access to all of the financial information that would be meaningful,” said Mitchell.