Faculty/Staff Address

Annual Faculty/Staff Address
San José State University

Changing Expectations/Setting the Stage
August 24, 1995

Rober L. Caret, president

Welcome back to a new academic year. And, from all the signs before us, it will be an exciting year. This is the year we can begin to position this institution for the next century. Today I want to focus on the current state of our institution, its recent past, and its immediate future. On October 6th we will be holding the formal ceremony at which I will be installed as the twenty-third president of this institution. At that time I will provide a view of what I believe this institution might look like as we enter the next century.

Let me begin with some brief introductions of individuals, either new to the campus, or new to their roles: Linda Bain (Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs), Gabe Reyes (Special Assistant to the President for Campus Climate), and St. Saffold (Acting Vice President for Student Affairs). I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Jim Walsh for his efforts on behalf of the institution in the months that he served as interim Vice President for Academic Affairs. Thanks, Jim, for a splendid job.

First, a little bit of history. How have we changed over the last five years?

Our operating budget from fiscal year '90 to fiscal year '95 dropped by about $15 million (9%). Our enrollments dropped by approximately 2500 students (2,000 FTE/9%), our full-time faculty dropped from 944 to 828 (12%), while our temporary faculty dropped from 980 to 764 (22%). We've had an overall decrease in faculty of approximately 17%, and that is directly reflected in the decrease in the number of sections of courses we are offering. Though we are now budgeted to run at a faculty-student ratio of 19, well above the 17.5 of five years ago, we are actually running at below 17.5. It is costing us more to run the university because of the larger percentage of smaller, upper division courses that are necessitated by our student mix and by the smaller percentage of part-time faculty we are able to hire. That outcome is particularly problematic in that it means we are running fewer and fewer sections of classes and the percentage of smaller classes is increasing. The smaller, upper division classes are only affordable with a good mix of larger, lower division ones. With fewer dollars, fewer faculty, fewer students, fewer sections of classes, an increase in demand for our services in a variety of ways, and deferred maintenance projects that are approaching levels we may never be able to address, we clearly need to turn things around. Things have not been easy, as we know all too well--you more than I. I also know that we would all prefer to put this recent history behind us--and we will. But, bear with me for a moment more.

Now let's look at the '96 fiscal year we are about to enter. As you can see, from the next series of slides, if we do not begin to make changes in how we approach our mission and the way we do business, we will continue to have more of the same. We need to disrupt this downward spiral that has been gaining momentum for several years and reverse that trend. Our enrollment target last year was approximately 19,000 students, and we came in almost two percent below that target. This year's target is slightly lower, but our recent projections show us potentially dropping even further. While this shift was occurring, several of our sister/brother institutions were growing. There is pressure to move money from campuses that are declining in enrollment to campuses that are increasing. As a result of that pressure, our '96 operating budget was cut by approximately a half a million dollars to reflect that shift in student demand. If student demand continues to decline, we can expect further budget cuts. We all need to work to be sure that that does not happen.

We have come through a difficult period and we have a significant challenge before us. I also know that these times have been difficult on you personally. But I also know that you are all dedicated to this institution and that with a commitment by all of us, we can meet this challenge.

Though we tend to focus any budget review on our immediate needs, our operating budget, it is in many ways equally important that we discuss our capital budget--that portion of the budget related to our physical plant. Since my arrival on campus seven months ago, I have been saying that the campus needs to be "cleaner, safer, prettier, and happier." We have been working hard to try to make those descriptors reflect the reality of the campus. We have begun washing windows again. Trimming, planting, and cleaning are a high priority. But this is a big campus and everyone can help. If you see a piece of waste paper, pick it up. If you see a flyer in an inappropriate location, remove it. If you see something that's broken and falling apart, let the individual who is the building coordinator in your building know. We can't promise an immediate remedy but we are working to improve our response times. The work environment is important to the employees and to our students. This campus should be spending approximately $2 to $3 million a year in deferred maintenance. Over the past three to five years, we have not been able to allocate even ten percent of that amount. This past spring, however, using money provided by the system and adding a little from our deferred maintenance pool, we were able to budget approximately $2 million in this important area. I want to continue deferred maintenance as a high priority and am working with the system office in an attempt to gain continued help from them in that effort. In addition, it is critical that we plan the campus of the future. The campus can no longer look like or be perceived as a walled fortress, separate from the city. We need to continue to become more and more a part of the core city, and we can do that, and achieve our own mission needs, by planning our facility for the next century with that goal in mind.