Stretching the dollar
When graduate business student Fayssal Kaddoura was asked what changes he expected in the College of Business Administration as a result of the current budget cuts, the first thing he said was “fewer classes.”
For some students at USF, this has become an almost knee-jerk response. With reports in the news and in the classroom of impending cuts, Kaddoura, along with other USF students, has come to expect that there will be fewer choices the next time registration rolls around.
But Richard Meyer, associate dean for the College of Business Administration, said students in his college should expect nothing of the sort.
“If you’re asking me how things will change as a result of the budget cuts, the answer is not much this year,” he said.
“I hear that some of the colleges are having to cut summer classes way back, but we’re not going to have to do that this summer.”
Meyer said because COBA has enough carry-forward money from previous years, it has been able to postpone most of the impact of the budget cuts. Colleges retain carry-forward money when they do not spend their entire allocated budget for a given year. Meyer said that in the past, colleges could not keep any unused funds, so there would be a rush at the end of the year to spend all the money in the budget. But that policy changed a few years ago, he said, and now colleges are allowed to keep any unused funds.
This change has given COBA the means to keep summer classes afloat, at least for the time being.
“By the summer of 2003, there is a potential that classes will need to be cut,” Meyer said.
But while COBA will be able to offer a full load of classes this summer, the cuts have still affected the college.
“We’re being very careful how we spend money this year,” Meyer said.
One of the areas affected is in hiring.
Meyer said that normally they might hire three or four full-time faculty members for the Tampa campus. But this year, they will only be hiring one, affecting other positions as well.
“It’s going to be very hard to be hired as a graduate assistant,” said Kaddoura, who is currently a graduate assistant for the college.
Another area that has been affected, Meyer said, has been the college’s “capital outlays.” This refers mainly to the equipment that the college purchases or maintains. An example Meyer gave was a copy machine in his office that doesn’t always work properly. In an ordinary year, Meyer said they would buy a new one. This year, however, they’re holding off.
Meyer said that while the college may currently have the money to pay for such replacements, there is no telling what the future holds.
“Uncertainty makes you not want to commit monies,” he said.Part of this uncertainty comes from the way the colleges are expected to manage their budgets. Meyer said that while budget plans for all colleges are drawn up in the spring and approved in the summer, the state Legislature can make changes in the fall that must be immediately applied, as was the case this fall.
“They came to all the colleges mid-year and said, ‘You have to give back 5 percent of your budget,'” Meyer said. “We had to adjust the money on the fly.”
And Meyer said there’s no guarantee it won’t happen again next year.
“You can never be sure when a request will come to return funds,” Meyer said.
So, while COBA may be OK for now, the budget will continue to raise concerns for some time.
“Everybody’s anxious. Everybody’s thinking about it,” said Kaddoura.
But Meyer remains optimistic. He said that as long as students in the college can be made aware of what changes to expect, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
“People adapt to things,” he said. “There are lots of ways people can work around it. It’s just a matter of sharing that information earlier.”
- Contact Dustin Dwyer at email@example.com