Corrigan offers bleak outlook
August 26, 2009 5:51 PM
SF State President Robert Corrigan encouraged educators to find solutions to the state's budget crisis at the annual faculty convocation Monday.
Corrigan said the California State University system absorbed the largest cut in its history and "it can be assumed that the worst is still to come."
This year, faculty and staff took a 10 percent pay cut, and mandatory furlough days have already taken a toll -- primarily for low-income employees.
Corrigan addressed SF State's active role in the community.
"Over the years we made a difference in the community and now we need to make a difference in this state," Corrigan said.
"I like his ideas but he didn't articulate how to implement them," biology Professor Tom Parker said. "It's not really practical because they're the ones in power [Sacramento]."
California currently faces a $26 billion deficit, directly affecting CSUs. The school's academic senate executive committee met 12 times this summer to discuss the budget effects, yet SF State has the fewest course offerings in a decade and there is a 33 percent full-time position loss since fall 2007.
"It was really depressing, but I'm glad he shares values of student education," said Theresa Hammond, associate professor in the College of Business. "I hope it turns around. My pay got cut 10 percent and I have a full waiting list," she said.
"The budget cuts will force the institution to change in ways we do not even know. One thing we will not change is our values," Corrigan said.
President Corrigan reinforced the idea of a "new SF State" throughout his speech, while making it clear that the school will not be changing its mission.
"The campus is committed to social justice and equity, its highest priority for education to the most diverse students," he said.
An example he gave was comparing the campus bookstore to the current budget situation. Years ago, the bookstore was heading toward bankruptcy when the marketing department on campus created a business plan to revive the store into a "thriving enterprise."
Corrigan used his anecdote to point out the importance of using school talent to create solutions rather than moving up the ladder to air their complaints.
"This is an example of what we can do now to help out the economic state on campus," Corrigan said.
This week marks the beginning of the university's 111th academic year, but Corrigan called it "year one of a reconstituted SF State."
"I do expect change. I expect the impact of the California state budget and for classes to be insane tomorrow," full-time geosciences lecturer Bridget Wyatt said.
Plastic SF State bags, replacing previous canvas bags, were handed out to nearly 400 faculty members, filled with a packet of current statistics on the faculty's diversity, salary comparisons with other CSUs, grants and contracts awarded this fiscal year.
"We took a vow of poverty when we came into this profession," Corrigan jokingly said, "but not of silence and obedience. We have the brain power -- money is not the issue."
Corrigan also addressed concerns about the furlough days from faculty and students.
"We hope it's short-term," Corrigan said. "It's only a cut in salary that preserves fringe benefits."
Corrigan suggested faculty work together to send possible solutions to Sacramento.
"Everybody my age is scared stiff of touching Prop. 13 but it's possible to reform Prop. 13 without hurting you and me," Corrigan said.
"It's going to be a difficult year that calls on all of us to do the best," new Provost Sue Rosser said.
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