In a document released from the Office of the President, pill price Dr. Miller addressed the recent fiscal position that Virginia State University is facing. Urban Views Weekly is printing the communique in its entirety. We want the University President to have an opportunity to deliver his complete and unvarnished message to the community.
Dear VSU Family:
The loss or reduction of several important federal financial aid programs has impacted Virginia State University and many other institutions. In particular, healing students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have felt the brunt of these actions. These cuts caused a significant decline in VSU’s enrollment, a loss that was exacerbated by further budget reductions mandated by the Commonwealth of Virginia to all state agencies.
VSU is positioned to meet this challenge, while, at the same time, ensuring the University’s mission is not compromised. Our administrative team has steadily guided VSU through times of economic uncertainty, while advancing the University’s academic status and maintaining our financial well-being.
In meetings and conversations with students, faculty, staff and alumni, I am impressed with the love and passion that abounds for our great university. I relish the opportunity to continuously communicate with these groups, to listen to concerns and to work in partnership to review the entire operations of the University. Together, we will determine the best and most proper courses of action to take.
Let it be clear that we are not merely putting a band-aid on today’s wound. We are charting the future of Virginia State University. Our strategic vision is bold, but it is attainable. Today’s financial environment should serve as a catalyst to analyze not only where we are today, but what we aspire to become. We have an opportunity to shake off inertia; to boldly take advantage of advances in technology; to continue to mold our students into success stories; to aggressively pursue innovation and investment.
The process began with our report last week to the University’s Board of Visitors. The next step is to reach out to our campus community. We have heard concerns and hope the accompanying Frequently Asked Questions will help address most of these. We are also planning Town Hall meetings to communicate, in the spirit of collegiality and respect, with faculty and staff Thursday, Oct. 9 in Anderson-Turner Auditorium and with students that evening, also in Anderson-Turner.
I am confident that, together, we will navigate Virginia State University through today’s challenges to emerge a stronger, more focused, institution.
Keith T. Miller, Ph.D.
FAQ Concerning the Budget Deficit
The following are responses to many of the questions and concerns that have arisen over the past weeks.
Should you have additional questions, please e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are the drivers of the budget deficit?
• Financial Aid
Changes to Federal law for Pell grants, SAP, Parent PLUS loans and other federal financial aid reduced the amount of funding available to our students by $3.4 million. Over 70% of VSU students receive federal aid. When these funds were no longer available, VSU experienced a significant enrollment decline. This enrollment decline led to a shortfall in funds from tuition, room & board and auxiliary fees of $17.6 million.
• State Budget Reductions
What are the federal financial aid reductions that contributed to VSU’s deficit? Program Name Award Amounts: Out-Side Alternative Loans (Reduction)$750,000; DC Leap Grant (Eliminated)$110,000; Federal ACG Grant (Eliminated)$146,625; Federal ACG Grant (Eliminated)$53,950; Federal Smart Grant (Eliminated)$75,000; Federal Smart (Eliminated)$55,000; Federal (SSS) Grant (Eliminated)$33,574; Federal (AMP) Scholarship (Eliminated)$50,000; Federal (HBCU) Scholarship (Eliminated)$150,000; Federal Parent PLUS Loans (Reduction)$2,000,000. Total: $3,424,149.
How does VSU get out of the deficit?
• Budget Reductions
• Process Improvements
• Strategic Enrollment Management
• Re-engineer business processes to use Banner more efficiently
• Increased Fundraising
How much is VSU’s annual operating budget and by how much was the budget reduced?
• VSU’s fiscal year 2014-2015 operating budget was approximately $183 million. The reduction of $17.6 million equates to a 9.6% reduction.
How will you determine which student activities and student services will be cut? What specific student activities will be cut?
Broad areas have been reviewed by the Student Affairs division; the details will be flushed out within the next month. A representative from the SGA will be involved when examining specific programs under review. Based on the enrollment validation, some immediate cuts were made to ensure the continuation of the University’s core services and operations. These and future cuts were prioritized and strategically done by VP divisions.
What is the anticipated Fall 2015 enrollment? Early estimates point to a Fall 2015 enrollment of approximately 5000
What are our future initiatives to ensure that enrollment for next fall will meet projections?
• Raise $2 million in financial aid (See fundraising action plan)
• Establish a new position to stabilize enrollment – Executive Director for Enrollment Management who will be hired by October 25th
• Prioritize recruiting students who were unable to enroll in the fall due to financial aid
• VSU will have a regular presence on most community colleges to grow enrollment for the Spring: Goal 200 students
• Generate 25,000 applications with an expected 5% yield through our contract with Royall & Company enrollment marketing firm. As part of the contract, we are expanding our geographic and demographic base, in addition to our core market.
• Improve enrollment management processes, and technologies
• Ellucian Recruiter using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Techniques
• Revamp follow-up processes to ensure consistent communication with potential students and families.
• Increase to one contact biweekly as opposed to approximately monthly.
• VSU Today Program
• Airing in 10 cities statewide – 20 weeks free in collaboration with Cox Media
• Add 2-4 admissions open houses each semester.
What is VSU’s Fundraising action plan?
• Institutional Advancement (IA) will increase the number of fundraising drives, expand our prospective donor pool among alumni and corporations and increase the number of “touches” to prospective donors with a goal of raising $2 million annually toward financial aid.
• IA will increase the number of special events and improve the operating margins associated with these events
• IA is instituting improved technology and data for fundraising and alumni outreach
• IA is continuing its long-term fundraising campaigns, including: Planned Giving, Endowment Fundraising and Class Gifts
How long will it take Institutional Advancement (IA) to ramp up to achieve fundraising goals?
• 12 months
• IA office will work with the Board/Foundations to raise $2 million annually in financial aid funds
Has VSU reviewed its internal processes and what are we doing to change them?
• We are re-engineering business processes to use Banner more efficiently
• We are using decision support tools to track financial aid and enrollment numbers sooner
• Enforce financial aid and student account deadlines
• Use predictive analytics to make data driven decisions
• Data mining to predict housing, enrollment and other business drivers
• Lack of Business Intelligence
• Predictive analytics, dashboard data, CRM, data warehousing
• Outdated tuition, financial aid and fee payment processes
Does this plan balance the budget?
• Based on the best available current information and conservative enrollment projections, the budget will be balanced for the year. We will continue to monitor key budget indicators and adjust accordingly.
Is the University paying for the convocation center and road work?
• No student funds or fees are being used for the construction of the multipurpose center or any roadwork.
Will Virginia State University close soon?
• No, we have 5000 students and we are reallocating our budget to reflect the number of students we have today.
Is money being taken from academics and being placed elsewhere?
• No, in fact the administration has sought to lessen the financial impact to the academic affairs division.
Will colleges/departments lose accreditation?
• No, accreditation is a priority. We have recently received three re-affirmations of accreditation.
Why are there limited dining operations in Gateway?
The significant reduction in on-campus housing has necessitated a slight reduction in food offerings and selection. The university continues to provide a variety of dining choices:
• Jones Dining Hall offers a full service breakfast, lunch and dinner menu
• Gateway offers a reduced menu of wraps, salads, sandwiches, pasta, burgers, pizza and other food choices
• The Austin Grille food truck also provides a variety of menu options
Are housekeeping services and trash pickup being reduced?
• There have been no changes in custodial services for our students in residence halls
Has the University increased ticketing on vehicles to bring in revenue?
• _There have been no changes in the established ticketing process. Procedures are being enforced as stated in the parking guidelines.
Why are professors not being paid and not teaching courses?
• With regard to adjuncts, no one should be teaching a course without a contract. Persons who had contracts are being paid in accordance with the contract.
Why were some adjuncts delayed in being paid at the beginning of the school year?
• We replaced the adjunct funding with some grant funds that needed prior approval from the federal government. The approval took longer than anticipated. We are currently re-evaluating the entire adjunct payment process.
Has the budget reduction caused a decrease in the bandwidth?
• No, in fact an additional $120,000 has been spent to increase bandwidth seven-fold.
The administration (President and VP’s) are not aware of what is going on, therefore they are unwilling to address the student body?
• The President and/or Vice-Presidents have participated at every SGA-sponsored Town Hall meeting.
• The President has monthly meetings with the SGA President and the SGA Cabinet.
Going forward, how will the administration communicate updates to faculty and staff?
• The Provost will continue meeting bi-weekly with the Faculty Senate leadership
• The President will distribute a monthly communication to faculty and staff
• We will increase the frequency of “Coffee with the President”
• We will hold general monthly faculty meetings
How will the administration communicate differently with the student body?
• At the SGA’s suggestion, Administration will institute a once-per-month “Lobbying Day” with the President, Vice Presidents and other administrators holding open door meetings to hear and address questions and concerns
• Monthly Communication to the SGA from the Administration
Will there be layoffs, buy-out plans and/or furloughs?
• For the remainder of this academic year, if a service or program is reduced or eliminated due to the reduced enrollment, we may have minimal staff reductions. We will first consider all other alternatives, including not filling vacancies, reducing service contracts and re-evaluating operating budgets.