Governor mandates more SUNY cuts

As Gov. David Paterson calls for additional cuts in expenditures for the 2008-2009 budget to reduce state spending, Geneseo and the entire SUNY system are facing difficult prospects.

On April 24, Paterson announced his request that all state agencies, including the SUNY and CUNY systems, reduce their operating budgets by 3.35 percent. For SUNY's 64-campus system, this additional cut translates into $109.2 million in addition to the original $38.8 million reduction in operating funds and a $29.6 million decrease for utilities expenses.

According to Vice President of Administration and Finance Dr. Kenneth Levison, preliminary figures from SUNY administrators require Geneseo to reduce spending by an additional $8.96 million.

According to Levison, the cut is expected to negatively impact campus tuition as well as intercollegiate athletics, the workout center, the Livingston County Transportation Service (LATS) bus program, technology services and dormitory amenities such as cable television and Internet connections. In addition, a number of construction projects, including "green" initiatives, will likely not be completed. Levison said it is not yet know what specific projects will be affected.

Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Marilyn Moore is deeply concerned about the potential effects of the additional reduction.

"With the severity of the proposed cuts, we will most likely take a substantial reduction in our operating expenses, which will affect all students - not just athletes," Moore said in an e-mail on April 29. "Our programs, the LATS bus system and technology services add to the quality of life for all students. This would be a serious setback for everyone to have to cope with."

Dr. Leonard Sancilio, dean of students, declined to comment. Dr. Robert Bonfiglio, vice president for student and campus life, could not be reached for comment.

According to Levison, Geneseo and other SUNY institutions will not be notified for several weeks whether these preliminary numbers will stand or be modified slightly. Currently, President Christopher Dahl and other executive staff members, including Levison, are working to get this additional cut reversed or mitigated.

"Such a drastic reduction in our ability to spend money would lead to major changes in what we can do," Levison said. "This cut is not affecting state tax dollars, but other revenues that support operations that are critical to your experience as an undergraduate student. This reduction flies in the face of the university being an economic engine for the state and could lead to more students going out of state. How does that help anybody?"

At this point, the administration has no plan of action to deal with the potential cut due to the uncertainty regarding the actual reduction figure. Schools have been given a May 16 deadline to submit a plan detailing how their budgets will be altered to accommodate the additional cut.