Gitenstein presents budget to Trustees, public

The Board of Trustees held a public meeting in the Brower Student Center, where President R. Barbara Gitenstein and Barbara Wineberg, College treasurer, presented the fiscal year 2004 budget plan.

The board was supposed to decide possible tuition changes for the coming academic year. However, since Gov. James E. McGreevey’s proposed budget cuts are still in limbo, members felt it was not the appropriate time to discuss tuition.

“It’s better to delay tuition hearings for now because it’s important to have the most accurate information possible,” Gitenstein said.

A closed tuition hearing will be held by the Board on June 13, with a public meeting to discuss and vote on changes on June 30, at a time and location to be announced.

While the state does not have to vote on the budget until July 1, Gitenstein said the College would have a better sense of how the assembly may vote than it does now.

For the time being, however, Gitenstein only directed attention to tuition changes at other state institutions facing similar crises. Public colleges in Connecticut, New York and Ohio have all been forced to raise tuition rates as result of a cut in funding.

“For reasons that can be well understood, she’s playing her cards very close to her chest by deferring the question of tuition to other states,” Dan Crofts, president of the faculty senate, said. “There is still hope, though, that her lobbying efforts could make the cuts not as deep.” Gitenstein, however, was equally guarded in discussing these efforts.

“People are extremely sympathetic to our problems, but we are not seen as the neediest cause,” Gitenstein said. “There are many serious needs in this state, so I have not suggested areas that could face cuts instead of higher education.”

“For the time being,” Gitenstein added, “we will assume that the governor’s budget is what we will have to go by. It’s the safest thing we can do.”

Bearing this in mind, Wineberg presented the current numbers to the Board, projecting a $9.6 million shortfall for next year.

This includes money that will be used to honor the Outstanding Student Recruitment Program (OSRP) scholars.

“We felt we needed to honor the scholarship, as we’ve been sending out literature about it and advertising it heavily for over a year,” Wineberg said.

According to Wineberg’s figures, state support for the College has sunk below 40 percent.

“I’m worried about pushing these areas too hard for savings,” Gitenstein said.

“But, in developing our shortterm budget, we must not forget our longterm mission,” Gitenstein said. “We are in the midst of a very exciting academic transformation, and we must allocate proper resources for this to be the kind of quality change we all think it will be.”