Faculty Senate Calls Rare Budget Meeting

On Tuesday, the faculty senate of the College of Charleston convened for the first time in many years to discuss concerns with the school’s budget from the past fiscal year. The seats of the Wells Fargo Auditorium filled quickly with faculty and staff. A panel of four experts sat at the front, including Executive Vice President of Business Affairs Steve Osborn, Assistant Vice President for Admissions and Financial Aid Jimmie Foster, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Robert Cape and Director of Athletics Joe Hull. Each expert presented information on their particular field of expertise as it related to the College’s budget, followed by a question and answer period for the faculty senate. President Glenn McConnell started out the meeting with a few words.

In his opening speech, McConnell assured the attendees that “the College is not in financial jeopardy,” and that “we are making these adjustments to remain fiscally sound going forward.” McConnell also dispelled the rumors of enrollment issues at the College, citing data given by the Office of Admissions. “It is clear that students want to come to the College of Charleston.” He closed his speech reminding the faculty that only through shared governance can decisions be reached that will help the College reach its goals.

The Wilson-Sottile House, commonly referred to as just the Sottile House, at 11 College Way, is home to the College of Charleston Office of Institutional Advancement (photo courtesy of Wally Gobetz via the Flickr Creative Commons).

The Wilson-Sottile House, commonly referred to as just the Sottile House, at 11 College Way, is home to the College of Charleston Office of Institutional Advancement. (Photo courtesy of Wally Gobetz via the Flickr Creative Commons)

After President McConnell addressed the faculty, the four panelists stood up one by one to present their data to the attendees. First up was Steve Osborn, who broke down the school’s budget and explained where the College’s operational finances come from. He revealed that by far the greatest source of income for the school was tuition, at $160,000,000.

Jimmie Foster was next, showing data from the Office of Admissions on student enrollment on both resident and non-resident students. The numbers revealed rising tuition costs over the years, with resident enrollment numbers rising and non-resident numbers holding steady. Ultimately, Foster’s data concluded that while the College is not lacking in application numbers, there has been a fall in total yield of students year to year. In other words, less students are enrolling – and staying – at the College of Charleston.

Third on the panel was Robert Cape, who addressed specific faculty queries on budget goals and usages. Cape revealed that over the last 10 years, the primary goal of the College’s budget has been to build an information technology organization designed to be used by faculty and to make staff more successful at their jobs overall.

Finally, Joe Hull concluded by presenting information on the various successes and challenges with the athletic budget, discussing primarily the asset that the athletes are to our school as a whole. Once Hull concluded, the floor was open for questions by the faculty.

During the questions, faculty members voiced their concerns with budget deficits, particularly those of the athletics department. One faculty member pointed out that 12% of student fees goes toward athletics at the College of Charleston, asking Athletic Director Hull “at what point is this too much to ask every student to pay, not so they can use the gym, but so that these teams can all exist?”

During the budget meeting on Tuesday, many questions were directed to the Athletic Department. Can we afford to keep paying as much as we do to support our teams, or should they stand alone (photo courtesy of Adam via the Flickr Creative Commons)?

During the budget meeting on Tuesday, many questions were directed to the Athletic Department. Can we afford to keep paying as much as we do to support our teams, or should they stand alone? (Photo courtesy of Adam via the Flickr Creative Commons)

Hull responded “if you look at schools that look like us, we are charging in the bottom half of public schools in the Colonial Athletic Association, we are cognizant of the issue and try every year to keep costs down.”

Another faculty member highlighted the concern of a $600,000 deficit three years ago in 2012 by the Department of Athletics, asking Hull why the department overspent by that much. Hull informed that the seemingly large deficit was due to an exit fee charged by the Southern Conference when the College left and joined the Colonial Athletic Association. He assured the faculty that although it looked like a deficit from an accounting standpoint, the money was, in fact, there beforehand.

Students continue to wait for more information as the budgeting of their tuition dollars continues.

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Scott Harvin is a sophomore Communication major with a minor in International Studies in the Honors College at the College of Charleston. Originally from Sumter, South Carolina, he is thrilled to be able to call the wonderful city of Charleston his new home, where he cannot wait to watch the next three years of his life unfold. Other than his academic career at the College, Scott is also a Resident Assistant in McAlister Residence Hall, a tour guide for Charleston 40, a member of the Student Ambassador Program and a News Contributor for CisternYard News. All of this can only mean two things: first, he knows pretty much anything anyone could ever want to know about the College and second, he never sleeps. Despite this, he still finds time to explore his passions for music, photography and adventure, collecting vinyl records while traveling the southeast with close companions to root out the best experiences, restaurants and events the world has to offer. He does all of this while pursuing his ultimate dream: becoming a journalist for a major news branch, preferably in New York, where he hopes to live out the American Dream. “You may call him a dreamer, but he’s not the only one.”


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