Sac State to halt admissions next spring

Brett Johnson

Admissions for the spring 2013 semester have been completely halted at 15 California State University campuses, including Sacramento State, in response to a bleak financial outlook delivered to the CSU’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday. On top of that, the board is examining the possibility of downsizing faculty, staff and services across all campuses if a tax measure is not passed by voters in November.

The CSU will not accept students, with the exception of transfer students coming into a small number of campuses, during the usual August application cycle for spring 2013. Applications for the fall 2013 semester are also planned to be put on hold – pending further developments with the state budget. This closure follows the CSU receiving a record-breaking total of 665,860 applications from potential freshmen and transfer students for the fall 2012 semester, according to a December press release from the CSU.

These cost-cutting solutions come in response to Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2012-13 proposed budget, which does not include immediate changes in state funding to the CSU but does rely of the passage of a tax measure by voters. The CSU would face an additional $200 million budget cut if Brown’s proposed initiative is not approved, which would equate to a total state funding cut of nearly $1 billion in the past 18 months. Brown’s 2011-12 budget contained a similar provision, which imposed a $100 million mid-year cut to the CSU system.

“If we were starting from a stable point – we might be able to hang back and wait until it happens before we took action,” Assistant Vice Chancellor for budget Robert Turnage said during a teleconference Wednesday. “To have another $200 million hit happen halfway through the academic year presents us with a situation where we can’t just sit back and wait for something to happen.”

Turnage said the trustees reviewed options for dealing with the reductions in state funding with the idea that raising student tuition was completely out of the question, and examined the consequences.

“Around 85 percent of the CSU’s budget is reserved for faculty and staff … We have to drop the number of people working for us if we’re going to come up with $200 million in spending reductions,” Turnage said. “However, if the number of faculty and staff drops significantly, then so does our ability to serve the amount of students we have, unless we try to reach an equilibrium. There is a need to get our enrollment down.”

A press release from the CSU also included academic programs and non-academic programs, such as athletics, student services and health services, on the list of possible reductions if the trigger cuts take effect.

“These are not things that we like to have to plan on, but we have to,” Turnage said. “We are looking at other options and analyzing a number of different alternatives. The problem is, anything you come up with – someone is going to hate. There’s nothing but the ugly stuff left.”

Despite the talk of cutting back, CSU administrators approved pay increases for two new campus presidents during Tuesday’s meeting. CSU East Bay President Leroy Morishita was approved for a base salary of $303,660 and CSU Fullerton President Mildred Garcia was approved for $324,500 – along with $72,000 in housing and car allowances for each.

CSU spokesman Erik Fallis said the pay increases were necessary to attract and retain high-level executive talent, and filling executive positions is never easy during tough budget times.

“In terms of budget cuts – we’re talking about a billion dollars; when we’re talking about executive compensation we’re talking about thousands of dollars,” Fallis said. “We do have presidents who leave and we are obligated to hire presidents who are of quality for our campuses.”

The CSU Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet again to further discussion cost-cutting options in May.