Public presentations examine college’s prospective financial future through Strategic Plan funds

The Budget Priorities Committee and Strategic Planning Group held a series of public presentations on Sept. 26. Different administrators presented potential plans for the first phase of funding for the Geneseo 2021 Strategic Plan. 

The SPG is currently in the first phase of implementation, and the college outlined $1 million that could be used to make necessary improvements, according to President Denise Battles. Of the phase one funding, $350,00 was designated for ongoing projects. The public presentations focused on proposals for where to allocate the remaining $650,000. 

“Our purpose [at the presentations] is really twofold,” Battles said. “First is to ensure we have a common understanding of our college’s overall financial picture … The second task is to hear proposals for the investment of the remaining $650,000 in that pool.” 

The first portion of the event concentrated on the state of Geneseo’s budgets. Vice President for Administration and Finance James Milroy compared the enrollment totals for the 2016-2017 academic year and the enrollment totals for the 2010-2011 academic year to demonstrate that Geneseo lost approximately $17 million due to enrollment declines. 

Over the same six-year period, the costs in the college’s State Purpose budget increased by $10 million, according to Milroy. 

Enrollment management persisted as a concern throughout the presentations, according to SPG member sophomore Emily Matura. 

“A lot of the times when people were giving presentations, the questions had to do with how it was going to benefit us in trying to get admissions back up, and I thought that was notable,” Matura said. “Most of the programs seemed like they could be valuable if we were to go with them.” 

Following the brief budget presentation, Vice President for Enrollment Management Meaghan Arena, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Gail Glover, Dean of Academic Planning and Advising and professor of English Celia Easton and professor of English Paul Schacht made the first set of presentations regarding the budget.  

Each of the speakers focused on a different initiative in their respective field. Arena emphasized the potential benefits of increasing engagement with potential students. Glover felt that the money could be used to reassess Geneseo’s “brand.” Easton suggested a partial overhaul of the current student advising system and Schacht believes that the funding could be used to prioritize digital learning initiatives. 

Following a brief lunch, Assistant Provost for Curriculum and Assessment and professor of physics Savi Iyer, Chief Information Officer and Director of Computing & Information Technology Sue Chichester and Director of the Center for Inquiry, Discovery and Development and professor of history Joseph Cope continued the event by explaining the individual areas in which they believe funding would be most effective. 

Iyer urged the BPC and SPG to recognize the need to digitize the curriculum management services and increase ease of access. Chichester alternatively focused on replacing outdated fiber cables throughout campus and Cope promoted the development of an integrative learning department. 

Members of the BPC evaluated the plans based on a set rubric prepared by themselves and the Office of the President as the presentations proceeded, according to Battles. The rubric analyzed the plan based on its adherence to the Strategic Plan, its importance, its timeliness, its cost-effectiveness, its likelihood for success and its potential to increase college revenue. Following the submission of evaluations by members of the BPC, Battles will decide which plans to officially approve. 

“I’m hoping to do more of these kinds of events,” Battles said. “Opportunities like this are wonderful chances for people who have an interest to come and just learn more about what’s happening on campus and how our funding works. Given how challenging higher education budgets can be, it’s probably a good thing if we all have a sense of the flow of monies in the institution.”u