Payne dispels budget rumors

With many questions relating to possible operating funds for the next fiscal year being asked, and no final answers expected soon, it is a nervous time for all state agencies in Texas.

While budget cuts at Sam Houston State and all other state universities may be substantial, Sam Houston is carefully examining all options to minimize their effects on the students. In addition, the state is considering tuition-related action which could further ameliorate the proposed budget reductions.

Sam Houston State is in a good position to deal with these cuts and has an excellent fiscal foundation from which possible budgetary problems can be solved, said David Payne, vice president for Academic Affairs.

“Our infrastructure is sound and we’ve been well managed for many years,” Payne said. “We are in a good position to adapt to any changes that may be needed without unnecessarily altering the quality of our programs. For this reason we believe that there can be a positive fiscal outlook for the next year at Sam Houston.”

In addition to, but totally separate from, the expected budget crunch, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board each year asks one fourth of the state universities to examine programs which have produced low numbers of graduates to determine if in the interest of efficient use of tax dollars any should be eliminated, consolidated, or altered.

This is the year in which Sam Houston is asked to perform that analysis.

“The Coordinating Board has asked that we examine programs at all levels that have our fewest number of graduates for the past three years,” Payne said. “This kind of review is positive and helpful. It helps us focus our resources most effectively.

“Though it may be necessary to consolidate or phase out some low enrollment programs, some with low enrollment and graduation numbers might be retained for other reasons,” he said.

“For example, the university’s new doctorate in counselor education is in its startup phase and has no graduates, and the doctorate in forensic clinical psychology has had only two but both doctorates would be retained.”

Payne said SHSU academic deans are conferring with department chairs and department chairs are conferring with faculty members in these first stages of the review process,

“We expect some recommendations for program closures to improve institutional focus and implement fiscal restraint,” he said, and any recommendations will come from the deans through his office for approval of the president and the university’s board of regents.

“The result of the unfortunately similar timing of these two events,” Payne said, “is unfounded rumor and the spreading of misinformation, even to the point where parents and students are already calling after hearing rumors that their student’s degree program is being eliminated.

“There is a great amount of bad information around campus, which could

harm our enrollment in currently viable programs. This in turn could affect retention and replacement within our excellent faculty.

“While no decisions have been finalized at this point, when decisions are made, after careful consultation, changes will be proposed through authoritative channels. Any changes which might take place in programs would not negatively affect current students in those programs.”

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