29 proposed changes for increased revenues and reduced costs

March 19th, 2009

A “graduation guarantee,” wage cuts and increased class sizes are among 29 proposals that University officials presented to faculty and administrators this week to help John Carroll University combat the economic recession.On Tuesday, CFO and Vice President for Finance Richard Mausser delivered a PowerPoint presentation that detailed the University’s plan to adjust to financial troubles. Some measures, such as a reduction in cleaning staff, have already taken place. Other proposals will not be approved until after meetings between administrators and faculty members this week.Mausser said, “There are people out there who might use this to say John Carroll is in a crisis. We are not in a crisis. We are acting prudently.”If all 29 suggestions are put into action, the estimated amount saved will be $2.9 million.“In some ways we are in a good place, but we arrived there with difficult decisions,” said Jonathan Smith, vice president and assistant to the president.Some cost saving techniques involve limiting services like cutting down on travel expenses, limiting business meals and department catering, requiring multiple price bids for all purchases over $5,000 and limiting part-time summer hires to enrolled students. Students will begin to see changes with future Commencement celebrations. Graduation ceremonies could permanently be moved inside to Cleveland State’s Wolstein Center. It would save the school an estimated $25,000. Suggestions affecting future students could include increased revenue by marketing a “four-year graduation guarantee” to ensure students graduate on time and the adoption of a 120-hour graduation requirement – opposed to the current 128 mandatory credit hours. Direct admission into major course study and the addition of five new majors for fall 2010 are also suggested.Staff and administrators might see reduced compensation. Currently 65 percent of JCU’s budget is used for salaries, wages and benefits. According to Mausser’s presentation, “Earlier this quarter two surveys evaluated that [JCU’s] health care benefit is on the rich side.” As of June 1, 2009, higher co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket share will go into effect. Incentive will be given for choice of generic medicines over name brands. These changes are projected to save $550,000. Although it has not yet been adopted, staff and administrators could be charged $250 per year for parking fees or across-the-board salary reduction could be graduated from 2 to 5 percent. One of the biggest changes in the works is the addition of a furlough, or two weeks of unpaid vacation.It is a mandatory two-week time period, without salary, per year. The two weeks do not need to be taken all at once. Mausser said, “We are considering a variety of flexible options which are intended to result in furlough time being spread over the entire 12-month fiscal year so as to reduce financial hardship.” It would begin in the 2009-10 fiscal year, and is equivalent to a 3.85 percent decrease in pay.University vice presidents will also contribute to the solution by agreeing to take a 5 percent salary reduction.A similar 5 percent salary cut is proposed for faculty paid more than $100,000 a year. This concerned some of those in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting. Marcy Milota, coordinator of gifts and marketing, feels there are plenty of opportunities for faculty input. She said, “As long as the administration seeks mutual agreement among the various constitutes across the campus community, we should be able to come to satisfactory agreements.”JCU President the Rev. Robert Niehoff first alerted the faculty and staff about these possible changes to the budget on Feb. 18. In his note he said, “We have put measures in place to survive the immediate needs and demands that outside forces have placed on us.”He went on to say that while those changes have sufficed for now, “The outlook for the following years suggests that we have even more challenges ahead.”Additional changes could include the curtailing of janitorial services with the shutdown of Bohannon, leasing instead of purchasing new computers and reducing the use of desktop computers to network computers. Money could also be saved from centralizing Web site management and investing in energy conservation through mechanical improvements.“These are necessary steps. They are painful and they hurt, but we can’t allow this to diminish what we do as an institution,” said Mausser.