Deena Wicker | The Poly Post

Academic Senate discusses budget concerns for the 2023-2024 school year

By Deena Wicker, Nov. 22, 2022

On Nov. 8, the Academic Senate held their monthly meeting where the committee shared concerns over a potential decrease in next year’s Student Affair’s Division budget.

The committee mentioned possible cutbacks in enrollment for Fall 2023, noting their uncertainty of what the budget may look like in the coming year.   

“I think the main concern was that the budget might decrease,” said the College of Science senator Stephen Osborn. “It relies heavily on student fees and there’s — I guess — some projections that there would be less of that in the coming year.”

In response to how a lack of funding from student fees would be supplemented, Student Affairs Chief of Staff Kaitlyn Sedzmak referred to the recent Campus Conversation  hosted by University President Soraya M. Coley.

“We plan for having the ability to shift where needed. We’re not in a position where something of this impact happens and then all of a sudden we have to tell students ‘We can no longer serve you in this way,” said Sedzmak.

A reduction in enrollment presents a decrease in the main portion of the Student Affair’s Budget, as the current base budget is $84 million, with $74 million derived from student fees and $10 million from state funding.

As discussed in the Campus Conversation, factors such as the COVID-19 impact, the neglect of non-traditional students and a decrease in high school graduates from low birth rates impose a national decline in post-secondary education.

Despite this, Cal Poly Pomona saw a steady rise in undergraduate admission applications over the last four years. Over the last five years, the university has seen a consistent increase in admission numbers.

In Fall 2022, CPP received a record-high of 64,630 undergraduate admission applications

“As I understand, at Cal Poly we’re one of three in the Cal State system that have had increases in student population through the pandemic. So we’re a destination school — which is good news,” said  Osborn.

Though proved to be in high-demand, the university intentionally reduced enrollment over the last two years in compliance with the Chancellor’s Office to better support currently enrolled students.

According to Provost Jennifer Brown, a lack in state funding makes over-enrollment an unsustainable decision as it results in “extraordinary stress” on campus services in addition to the need of more courses.

Budget committee member Priti Saxena acknowledged the benefit that enrollment reductions may have, despite budgetary concerns.

“You always want to have a good number of student bodies, but at the same time, you don’t want to have too many that we cannot accommodate,” said Saxena. “That’s where the budget comes in and the budget committee can help them with those decisions.”

Deena Wicker | The Poly Post

To offset declining trends and funding, CPP is shifting its focus to philanthropy expansion and maintaining the university’s appeal by connecting with potential applicants and strategizing their recruitment process.

Other budgetary challenges emphasized in the Academic Senate 2022 Budget report included salary increases, rising fee-funded health benefit agreements, student minimum wage increases, disproportionate growth in student population and new expectations rising from the pandemic.

According to Sedzmak, the university has upheld a general plan to meet these demands over the last three fiscal years.

“We really try to plan for it in advance. Like today, we are already looking at five years from now,” said Sedzmak. “By being proactive and anticipating these salary increases and the cost of goods increasing, we factor that into our forecasting plan so that we are trying to be prepared. Then as we learn what it is actually going to be, we are able to adjust it.”

For those interested in a follow up on the Student Affairs Budget, the next Academic Senate meeting will be held Dec. 7 in room 98-P2-07.

Feature image by Deena Wicker 

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