2005 Budget Testimony
Legislative Analyst Questions
1. Retention Rates for Minority Students:
a) The President should comment on whether
retention rates are expected to increase for African-American and racial/ethnic
minority students in the near future.
is on track with our retention goals as projected in our MFR (Managing For
Results) program. We anticipate a slight increase in retention for all students.
students, it must be noted that the institution has surpassed its benchmark of
78% retention rate and the rate is expected to increase and then stabilize at
levels near that of all students.
For the most recent
cohort, our data show that the African-American student two-year retention rate
for those entering in Fall 2003 was equivalent to that of white students
(82.7% vs. 82.8%). Similarly, MHEC data report that SU’s minority retention rate
has surpassed the benchmark of 80% for two consecutive years.
b) The President should explain why the
estimates of graduation rates between all students and African-American and all
minority students fall short of the goals and how Salisbury is working to attain
The benchmark set by
the Department of Budget and Management was not one that Salisbury University
administrators thought would be achievable within a given time frame.
Our data show large
annual variations because of relatively small cohorts. Not until the larger 2001
cohort begins to graduate in 2005, 2006, and 2007 will we have a more valid
indication of what the minority student graduation rate will be. I estimate that
our MHEC reported graduation rates for that cohort will be between 60% and 64%.
This would place SU among the highest graduation rates for minority students
within the USM.
Since February 2001, I have made increasing
diversity an institutional priority. Over the last five years, we have increased
the number of African-American students enrolled by 49% (from 416 in Fall 2000
to 621 in Fall 2004) and more than doubled the number of Hispanic students
enrolled (from 60 in Fall 2000 to 146 in Fall 2004). We have done this through
special programs in selected high schools on the Western Shore, marketing, and
expanding our institutional scholarship programs.
Numbers cannot be the whole story. SU offers
special orientation programs for families of in-coming minority freshmen and
transfer students prior to the start of the Fall semester. We monitor the
progress of any student who may need special assistance in adapting to college
life. This past summer, I hired a new Director of Diversity, Mr. Kevin
Carreathers, former director of the Department of Multicultural Services at
Texas A&M University and co-founder of that school’s Diversity Education
Institute. Mr. Carreathers is also the founder of the Southwestern Black Student
Leadership Conference, the largest student-run conference of its type in the
country. I have charged him with developing a variety of programs and activities
that will ensure that Salisbury University is a welcoming place for all
students, employees, and others who use our campus.
2. Efficiency Initiatives:
The President should comment on the
challenges and opportunities provided by the efficiency initiatives. The
President should also comment on alternative initiatives to achieve academic
We anticipate that containing energy costs
through cooperative purchasing, gaining efficiencies through the strategic
deployment of information technologies, and implementing new academic polices to
enhance capacity and time to degree will likely have the most immediate impact.
The University is in the
process of aggregating demand with its sister institutions to purchase
electricity cooperatively. A cooperative pricing structure should yield savings
when compared to per kilowatt cost escalations predicted for FY 2006.
The University is
continuing to refine its administrative software (PeopleSoft) to streamline
processes and implement best practices.
University is pursuing alternatives related to enrollment management, time to
degree, and on-line learning.
On the academic
front, SU’s enrollment for FY 2005 is approximately 200 FTES above earlier
enrollment projections. Thus, Salisbury University has supported 255 additional
students at no cost to the State. The University also is reviewing the workloads
of adjunct and temporary faculty to maximize instructional workload. Finally,
faculty and student advisors are receiving additional opportunities for training
on PeopleSoft so that they can provide expedient, accurate, and efficient
advising recommendations, thereby reducing the potential of students taking
classes not needed to earn their degree.
3. Institutional aid:
The President should comment on the
distribution of SU institutional aid and on the school’s future financial aid
For a number of years, Salisbury University has
had among the lowest annual per student scholarship dollar amounts and highest
loan amounts of any USM institution. Historically, inadequate state funding and
relatively low tuition levels have been the cause of this dubious distinction.
Simply put, because of our revenue situation, Salisbury University is unable to
package financial assistance at levels comparable to what is offered by our peer
In order to address the financial needs of our
students, over the last five years we have increasingly dedicated more funds to
institutional aid and, further, more of those funds have been earmarked for
need-based scholarships. Over the past five years, SU has tripled its allocation
of institutional funds for student assistance.
We have made considerable efforts to raise
scholarship funds through the SU Foundation. Here, too, the amount of funds
available for additional student financial aid has increased significantly over
the past few years, growing to almost a half million dollars in AY 2004-2005,
though we remain well behind our peer institutions in terms of financial aid we
The Financial Aid Task Force, with the
leadership of Treasurer Nancy Kopp, has directed that all institutions establish
strategies for reducing student debt and for addressing the financial needs of
those students who most depend on economic support. The Financial Aid Task Force
also recommended that alternative tuition models be studied for a possible pilot
project in Maryland. Salisbury University will be exploring such models.
I am pleased that Chancellor Kirwan has given me
approval to begin to explore the Miami University of Ohio model and others.
Given our general fund allocation per student, selectivity, size, and
aspirations, Salisbury University may be the logical campus to pilot a new
tuition model that could result in diverting more of our revenues to fund
4. FUND BALANCE
The President should comment on the outlook
for contributing unrestricted funds to fund balance and facilities maintenance.
The Chancellor has set fund balance targets for Salisbury
University and the other USM institutions, and we have met those targets, even
when challenged by severe fiscal constraints. We are striving to exceed the
established fund balance goals in order to improve our capital position and to
ensure a source of funding for auxiliary facilities renewal projects. As the
overwhelming majority of these funds are generated through self-funded
operations, the University is implementing a ten-year plan to identify and fund
renewal projects for auxiliary buildings (e.g., residence halls, student union,
The University acknowledges the need to maintain a strong
facilities maintenance schedule. Unfortunately, funding for facilities
maintenance was reduced drastically as part of the University’s response to cuts
in State appropriations over the past several years. The University has
increased its annual internal funding back to $250,000 and continues to list
this as a top institutional priority.