College able to expand administration

The creation and restoration of several new administrative positions this year marks a slow return to normalcy following the massive cuts to higher education in the state’s 2007 fiscal budget, according to College officials. And while more cuts to the state budget might be on the horizon, they say the positions are secure.

The College is currently searching for a Campus Police chief, a general counsel, a replacement provost, an assistant director of Student Activities and an associate director of Leadership Development.

“Over the last five years, we have experienced significant cuts from the state, and during that time we were able to protect our investment in safety and our investment in the academic core,” College President R. Barbara Gitenstein wrote via e-mail. “During that time, we cut positions (without layoffs) and provided a responsible budget to continue the College enterprise. As a result, the majority of the cuts were in the staff/administrative side.”

Thirty-nine administrative positions were dropped in total during the budget cuts, according to Wineberg.

But Gitenstein said a number of investments made by the College enabled administrators to expand their staff this year.

“We always knew that at some point we would have to reinvest in administrative/staff personnel, but through these difficult decisions, we created a pool of resources by the cuts to which was added resources that came our way by additional state support this year, and additional resources from a larger freshman class last year and this year,” Gitenstein wrote.

But Gitenstein also noted that while the administrative staff is growing again, the College still has one of the lowest percentages of senior administrators in the entire State Association of State Colleges and Universities.

However, College officials are still in the position of having to react to potential state budget cuts in the future. Last week, Gov. Jon S. Corzine called on Cabinet members to submit plans to cut as much as $3 billion from the state’s 2009 fiscal budget. According to an anonymous state official quoted by The Star-Ledger, the cuts being considered include funding to public colleges.

When state funding to higher education was last slashed in the 2007 fiscal budget, the College saved $1.5 million as a result of the elimination of vacant administrative positions, according to Wineberg.

“The strategy for addressing past and future budget cuts is determined by several factors and is usually a combination of expenditure cuts, revenue enhancements and the extent of the state budget cut,” Wineberg wrote via e-mail.

Wineberg said the College would try to avoid increasing the number of freshman enrollments as a means of compensating for any lost state funding, should cuts occur.

In the meantime, administrators say they are happy to be growing their staffs. Tim Asher, director of Student Activities and Leadership Development, devised a proposal that led to the creation of the new assistant director of Student Activities and associate director of Leadership Development positions.

“The goal is to create a vibrant (College) experience, where students want to get more involved, learn and have fun,” Asher wrote via e-mail. “And the key to making all of this possible is the support we have received to hire two new professional staff from the president and Board of Trustees.”