SPECIAL SERIES : SF State Budget Woes
Business, Nursing Move Toward Privatization
April 19, 2004 8:58 PM
As budget cuts threaten the integrity of many majors at SF State, the school’s administration and colleges—like business and nursing—are preparing for the worst and considering possible alternatives in order to stay alive during the financial crisis.
The College of Business and School of Nursing are considering moving some of the pre-requisite courses needed for students attempting to enroll in the graduate programs to the College of Extended Learning in order to save state funding for undergraduate classes.
In a letter to students and faculty, President Robert Corrigan explained the need for severe cuts within the university but that the school is determined to maintain good class availability for students.
“The largest share of the cuts, some $9.8 million, will have to come from Academic Affairs which, as I have noted before, comprises 63% of the University's budget,” wrote Corrigan. This figure assumes that Chancellor Charles Reed approves the fee increases passed by students through the referendums.
In a statement released Monday, the College of Business has been proposed to move to self-support. The School of Nursing has been spared.
Although no official decisions have been made to cut specific areas, President Corrigan and Provost John Gemello continuously have been communicating with deans, department chairs, directors, and faculty about the best strategy to make cuts in the most effective way.
Often when there are necessary budget cuts to make, there would be an equal percentage eliminated from each college or department’s budget, said associate dean of business Ron Beall.
However, if these type of pro-rata cuts are made at SF State there is a concern that the entire university would become a mediocre school, Beall said. This is an explanation for Corrigan’s plan to make larger cuts, possibly eliminating whole departments rather than making smaller ones all across the board, he said.
“The provost has already identified several ‘very likely’ elements of that plan … a proposed $2.3 million cut in the general fund budget for the College of Business -- achievable in part by moving some programs to self-support; and discontinuation or suspension of other academic programs,” said Corrigan’s letter.
In preparation for these cuts the College of Business has set up a number of committees to figure out how to save or raise money both for next fall as well as long term, and also how to decide which services to reduce and how to cut expenses, according to Beall.
Sam Gill, department chair of information services in the College of Business, is involved with these committees and explained the struggle his department is facing.
“There are two sides of the equation,” Gill said. “One, increase revenue and become self-support(ed). Then we need to look at cuts: what is the order in which we can make cuts? At what level will we impact the program?”
In order to become a self-supported program the College of Business is looking at converting proficiency requirements for the MBA program into courses that would be taken by the students through College of Extended Learning.
“There’s an attitude out there that says, also about nursing, is it fair to subsidize education for people who make $80 to $100,000 a year versus those who make $20 to $30,000 a year,” said Gill. “It’s hard to agree on what’s fair.”
Gill spoke about the university as a manufacturer for full-time education, and the budget cuts were basically a lose-lose situation for everybody in academia.
“We are a production machine for students,” he said, “If we do (cuts) across the board everyone suffers, if we are more selective, then we can do it in (certain areas) but we have to make up the slack in others. You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t.”
Richard McCline, a professor in the business department, encourages the idea of the graduate program becoming self-supported through the College of Extended Learning.
The College of Business has to have a close relationship with the business community; it has to be proactive, McCline said. If the campus is located downtown in the midst of the business world where the college’s constituencies are it would be a great benefit, he said.
Business major Vanessa Hunger said she wants to go to graduate school eventually to receive a master’s in business. However, she won’t be applying to SF State.
“I heard that grad school is going to be self-support,” Hunger said. “I feel I could pay the same amount at a better school.”
As far as the overall change in the graduate program in relation to the rise in costs, Hunger said: “I don’t think the quality would suffer, but I don’t think it would improve as far as facilities or job placement.”
Marie Eim, an international student receiving her MBA in finance, thinks the shift to self-support will allow more international students to come to SF State.
“I think they’ll accept more international students because they charge us up to five times more,” Eim said. The students here don’t want to increase fees. And the administration doesn’t want to, so they could make more money by accepting international students, she said.
Private Nursing School
The School of Nursing was not on the proposed list of cuts. But it is already extremely impacted and privately funded. According to the program’s director, Dr. Beatrice Yorker, the School of Nursing has been privately funded to open a school outside campus.
Similar to the plans for master’s degree in business, nursing is considering privatizing the pre-licensure entry-level nursing courses for the graduate program through the College of Extended Learning.
This would allow the School of Nursing to charge $350 per unit for students attempting to enroll for a nursing master’s degree. This high cost, according to Yorker, is simply to stay alive.
“By privatizing, we charge higher tuition through the College of Extended Learning and it’s not available for those on Financial Aid. We have to pay faculty salaries and overhead through money from tuition to CEL.” This will allow the undergraduate program at SF State to remain more or less the same, according to Yorker.
“We don’t have the money to pay for funding of these courses,” Yorker said. “It’s labor intensive with costly facilities.”
This year alone the School of Nursing turned away 600 qualified applicants, Yorker said. The program is highly impacted because nursing is one of the highest demand service jobs in the country, according to Yorker.
People want this job because it won’t be outsourced to other countries, Yorker said. They want this job because after Sept. 11 people wanted to do a job with meaning, and the field of nursing is being portrayed as a stimulating, high-tech career, she added.
Despite the high demand and numerous applicants for nursing school there is a shortage of graduating nurses in California.
SF State graduates 90 new undergraduate nurses a year, and 50 with master’s degrees a year. If they lost state funding, they would be able to graduate about 30 with a bachelor’s degree and zero of those who already have degrees and want to get their master’s.
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