At his March 3 Noon Forum, President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., laid out the university’s preliminary FY ’12 budget, discussed other university developments and, as is his trademark, took any and all questions from faculty and staff in attendance.
On the budget, the president walked faculty and staff through the basics of what he shared in a campus announcement earlier in the week. He called the $190 million preliminary FY ’12 budget approved by the Board of Trustees “very fair and very forward-looking.”
Fr. Sundborg also said the budget is “the tightest I’ve seen in my 15 years (as president).” A big reason for that, he said, was uncertainty over the federal Pell grant and state need grants programs, both of which are threatening to be cut. If funding is eliminated, he said the university “will fill in whatever the federal and state governments take away for students already here.” Largely because of this uncertainty, Sundborg said, all units across the university are being asked to set aside a portion of their allocations, totaling about $2 million, in order to make any adjustments needed as the year goes on.
Essentially two buckets of funding have been allocated for faculty and staff salary increases, the president said. There’s the overall compensation pool amounting to a 2 percent increase over last year that each unit can distribute at their discretion. In addition, $500,000 has been set aside to make adjustments to the salaries of faculty and staff that are out of balance with market benchmarks. These adjustments will be made after the Compensation and Benefits Study now underway.
In addition to the budget, Sundborg also briefed the university on other campus developments. Among other news, the president announced that:
- Jerry Huffman has been named vice president for Human Resources and University Services.
- Tun Channereth, the Cambodian who won the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in addressing land mines, will receive an honorary doctorate at Seattle University’s graduate commencement ceremony. He joins the previously announced undergraduate honorary degree recipients—the Japanese Americans who were forced to abandon their studies at SU following the removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans in 1942.
- SU’s ROTC program has received top honors from the Order of the Founders and Patriots of America.
- The university has again received an “A” rating from Standard & Poor’s. (This rating is given every two years.)
- The Board of Trustees has approved $6 million in enhancements to Logan Field, including installation of artificial turf and lighting, however the university will not move forward with the project until its enrollment and overall financial situation are more clearly known in the fall.
Sundborg also spoke of the positive attention the Seattle University Youth Initiative received after it was publicly announced last month, particularly in the Seattle Times. He encouraged faculty and staff to continue to take part in the Core revision process, and at the president’s request, Nalini Iyer, chair of the University Core Revision Committee, provided a brief update of those efforts, including a reminder to take the survey open to faculty, staff and students before March 18.
The president also called upon Marilyn Crone, vice president for enrollment management, for an enrollment update. She said the university was taking “a very thoughtful approach” to enrollment and that it was on track to meet its targets. The university’s FY ’12 budget assumes the enrollment of 925 new first-year students.