FPU announces budget plan

Since fall 2008 enrollment was lower than expected, Fresno Pacific University has put into effect a plan to ensure a balanced budget.

Administrators announced the following steps October 20:

* Bakersfield opening delayed--There will be a one-month delay in moving into the new Bakersfield Center building. The opening is now scheduled for March 1 instead of February 1.

* Reduced capital expenditures--Capital expenditures will be reduced, particularly in information technology.

* Suspended of vacation accrual--Staff and administration will not accrue new vacation from November to April. Normal accrual will resume in May.

The university will also be closed for two additional days before Christmas and for two days during spring (2009) break. These will be four additional days off with pay.

* Overload pay--The overload rate for regular faculty (and staff and administrators who also teach), will be 50 less for courses offered during spring 2009.

* Reduced retirement match--The university retirement match will drop from 6 percent to 1 percent. The normal 6 percent will be restored in May.

* Ranchwood condo sale--Some (or all) of the Ranchwood condominiums will be put on the market.

* Cost-saving measures--Faculty, staff and various groups came forward with a number of cost-saving suggestions that will be studied for implementation.

A total of 2,377 students began classes this fall, the same number as fall 2007. Bachelor's degree completion programs attracted 733, up from 652. Graduate students were up three to 784, while traditional undergraduate enrollment dropped from 944 in 2007 to 860.

Based on past performance and expected conditions, university administrators had projected, and based the budget on, 90 more traditional undergraduates and 40 more degree completion students.

The current economic downturn has disproportionately touched California's Central Valley, which most FPU students call home. Many FPU students are the first in their families to go to college, and come from families with few financial resources, the very families first affected by the weak economy.

On the positive side, the "yield," the percent of applicants who enroll, went up this fall. In addition, freshman retention was 77 percent, up from a goal of 75 percent.

Admissions staff members are looking at new ways to reach potential students. A new degree completion program to allow registered nurses to earn their bachelor's degree (RN to BSN) begins in January.

FPU has also contracted with Noel Levitz, a premier enrollment organization, to make FPU affordable to as many academically qualified students as possible.

"While these are certainly challenging times, opportunities nevertheless abound," President D. Merrill Ewert told faculty and staff.

"Fresno Pacific University has a solid foundation and we look forward to working with you in the years ahead to advance our mission; to develop students for leadership and service through excellence in Christian higher education. Thank you for your faithful service to that cause!"