Equipment spending limited

More faculty at USF are choosing to instruct classes with the use of new technology, but sometimes, professors have to teach without it because the resources they need aren’t always available.

USF’s Educational Outreach, which provides audio/visual equipment such as projectors or cameras to the university, may not be able to buy as much equipment as it would like this year because of budget cuts, said Jackie Fechter, coordinator for the Audio Visual Department in Educational Outreach.

Fechter said more professors are using Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, which are displayed with the use of projectors that can cost from about $4,000 to $12,000.

Fechter said there have been no written complaints from faculty because of the lack in equipment, but professors sometimes have to wait to reserve equipment such as digital cameras or televisions.

“We can’t always give it to them right away,” Fechter said. “They need to use resources, but there are sometimes too many requests.”

Educational Outreach’s budget had two reductions in the fall, one of $161,889, and in July, the department is expecting to be reduced by $153,795. The budget will have to be looked at closely when allocating the money, said David Baird, director of Business for Educational Outreach.

“Those numbers are an overall cut, but some money is earmarked,” Baird said. “I don’t know how we’re going to allocate our funds yet, but some is earmarked for equipment.”

Fechter said Educational Outreach buys as much audio/visual equipment as its budget will allow, but the department was told this year would be different.

“We were told this would be a bad budget year,” Fechter said. “In general, we buy (projectors) every year, but this particular year has been bad.”

Fechter added that Educational Outreach is always upgrading its equipment, such as purchasing newer projector models to keep up with technology. But because of the rapid improvements in technology, Fechter said some projectors are not compatible with the latest laptop computer models.

“If the university is requesting faculty to use technology, we need to provide that,” Fechter said. “We try to buy as much as we can with our budget.”

Baird said to avoid laying off employees, he had to shift some salaries to the Auxiliary Services department.

“There were layoffs in the auxiliary units,” Baird said. “We were fortunate that we didn’t have to layoff anyone in E&G (Education and General).”

Educational Outreach, which is a self-supported department, earns some revenue through the non-credit courses it has available for students.

“Last year, we maybe lost money in our non-credit courses,” Baird said. “This year, because of the recession in the general economy, it shows there is much less revenue money this year than last year.”

Contact Grace Agostinat