Students encouraged to see how the university spends its money

Sonoma State University will hold a public meeting to discuss the school’s 2018-2019 budget with students in the Student Center this afternoon.

“Understanding how the university spends money is important,” said Laura Lupei, senior director of budget and planning at Sonoma State and one of the presenters at the meeting. “It’s not interesting for everyone, but how the university spends money for things like diversity directly impacts the student’s experience both in the classroom and outside of the classroom.” 

The budget is usually only discussed with groups like Associated Students, who would give their input in previous years. The new plan by the administration is to hold a budget meeting every semester to try to make it a regular occurrence. To this end, the school has made an effort to advertise the meeting across campus.

This presentation comes in the wake of Gov. Jerry Brown’s initial budget proposal of a $92.1 million budget increase for the CSU system, roughly one-third of the $292.9 million increase requested by the CSU trustees. According to the CSU, the shortage in funds will affect things such as enrollment growth, improvement and maintenance of facilities, meeting payroll costs and investment in future initiatives such as Graduation Initiative 2025, which would seek to increase the number of college graduates coming out of the CSU system.

“California needs 1.1 million people with a higher education to stay competitive in the coming years,” said Joyce Lopes, vice president of Administration and Finance at Sonoma State, and one of the presenters at the upcoming budget meeting.

Figures from the The Public Policy Institute of California support her claim. A conflux of factors from a retiring generation of baby boomers to the still-lingering impact of 2008’s Great Recession and the effect that had on California's education budget lead the PPIC to predict a shortage of roughly 1.1 million workers with a bachelor degree by 2030. The first few suggestions to reduce this problem include increasing access to public college and improving the time it takes to earn a degree, citing that in 2010, only 19 percent of students achieved a bachelor’s degree in four years at CSUs, contrasting with the UC system which sees a 60 percent graduation rate within four years.

Lisa Vollendorf, provost at SSU and one of the presenters at the meeting, encouraged statewide advocacy to try to push the scheduled May budget revision to restore the required budget for the CSU. The meeting will be held from 3-5 p.m. today in the Student Center, Ballroom A.