Eduardo J. Padrón
Office of the President
300 N.E. Second Avenue
Miami, Florida 33132-2297
Message From the President
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Making Difficult Choices: MDC’s Response to the Financial Crisis
As all of you know first hand, Miami Dade College has learned, and relearned, the lesson of doing more with less. The recent budget crisis in Tallahassee has exerted unprecedented pressure on the College, but the underfunding of this institution stretches back for many years.
For more than 10 years, we have implemented a continuous program of cost containment, administrative streamlining and a very conservative approach to our budget. In the last year and a half, the College has implemented a hiring freeze, travel restrictions and a sizeable reduction in discretionary funds.
Many of you have responded to my request for cost saving ideas, many of which will create efficiencies and save money. Over the years, you have also executed bold new ideas in teaching and operational practices, demonstrating the courage to move away from doing business as usual. In fact, innovation has saved money and protected our students and us from many of the program and personnel losses that our local sister institutions and institutions across the country have endured.
We have tried everything to stave off decisions that would affect programs and personnel, but unfortunately, we have reached the end of our elasticity. MDC’s senior management team has spent countless hours trying to identify the most sensible approach to cope with the present economic situation and ensure the long-term stability of the College.
Long-term stability is crucial and I’ll speak to that more in depth in the ensuing paragraphs. But given our review of the most recent budget from Tallahassee, it is more than clear that our financial losses are now too severe to avoid the difficult decisions that affect our programs and personnel.
Where we stand
Our budget shortfall has mounted since the 2007-08 budget. We have lost $21.6 million in state funding, equivalent to 11.3 percent of our budget. No matching funds have been provided for scholarships, programs or facilities, representing an additional match loss of $27 million. In the past several years, we have drawn resources from the College’s endowment to meet operational costs, but the economy has cut into our endowment and our best course is to protect that resource.
All of the above has occurred in the midst of tremendous enrollment growth. But no state funds have been provided for upwards of 35,000 students. These unfunded students have resulted in an additional $39 million in lost revenue needed to cover the cost of instruction. While tuition will increase by 8% this year, it will only cover one-third of the full cost of instruction. And this is hardly a long-term remedy as the economy continues to take a toll on our students.
We have been up against a tide of financial losses that stretch well beyond the past two budget cycles. Our efforts to economize have occurred in the face of very significant long-term losses.
In the past three years, MDC has lost 18.8% in dollars per full-time equivalent (FTE) student funding. We have gone from $3,643 per FTE in 2006-07 to $2,959 per FTE in 2009-10. Over the longer period of 10 years, our FTE reduction has been 12.4% in dollars per FTE. During the same 10 year period, the State University System (SUS) has gained more than 20% in dollars per FTE and Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) has increased 42.3% in dollars per FTE. The SUS now receives, on average, $11,749 per FTE; M-DCPS receives $6,982 per FTE.
Impact on students
In the message recently sent to students, I had to inform them that we will not be able to add any new class sections to our 2009-10 class schedule. That translates, according to our institutional research estimates, to nearly 30,000 students who will not be able to take the classes they need and more than 5,000 will not be able to register for any classes at all. This adds pressure to the lives of not only students fresh from high school but also those displaced by the economy and returning from military duty.
We are, simply, not able to add any new faculty and that directly limits our ability to add new sections to accommodate the upsurge in registration.
But as we look ahead one of the key priorities of our budget restructuring is to add new faculty. The actions we take now must lay the foundation for such a necessary step.
Securing the long-term stability of the College
One of the most serious aspects of the challenge we face is that we cannot be paying for recurring needs in our base budget, including salaries and operations, with non-recurring money. $13.6 million of our state funding in the 2009-10 budget will come from federal stimulus dollars, which while welcome is but a stopgap, a temporary fix. Using non-recurring revenues to pay for recurring costs only makes a bad situation worse in the too near future. Two years from now the stimulus money will be gone and our base state funding will be significantly less. We cannot afford to count on federal money or tuition increases to assure the stability of the College’s work going forward.
We must not fall into a constant state of financial instability. The toll is much more than financial; at risk is our morale, creativity and the quality of our programs and services. And this is why our approach to the budget cannot be limited to just fixing this year. Our budget plan should chart a course for the foreseeable future.
The steps we must take
Our priority is clear: we need to protect our core mission of teaching and providing essential services to students. To do so, it’s important to resist the temptation to simply cut across the board. Such a strategy would surely invite mediocrity in the most essential aspects of our mission.
The following steps are the result of a painstaking and difficult review. While we have made every effort to minimize the impact on faculty and staff, obviously, there are no painless remedies that involve jobs or compensation.
- Vacant positions: Elimination of 86 vacant positions equivalent to $4.4 million.
- Loss of employees: 111 employees equivalent to $7.2 million.
- Non-personnel expenditures: Reduction of $2.7 million.
- Programs eliminated: Midwifery, radiation therapy technology and Open College. Other programs presently under review for discontinuation include: Construction technology, air conditioning and refrigeration, surveying, hospitality, oceanographic engineering, and special certification programs in business computer programming and network support services. In addition, all high cost programs will be reviewed for potential enrollment caps.
- Program consolidation: Several departments, divisions and schools will be undergoing consolidations. These include:
- Departments of Career Services and Academic Advisement
- School of Funeral Science and Department of Biology
- Schools of Justice and Fire and Environmental Sciences
- ACCESS and MEED
- Continuing Workforce Education and Basic Law Enforcement
Other measures have or will be implemented. Here are some examples:
- Enrollment open houses: Open houses have been cancelled as we simply do not have the classroom space or needed faculty and support staff to justify the open house promotion.
- Collegewide Training & Development: The seven CT&D coordinators have returned to the classroom on a full-time basis. This means that 19 more courses per term are being taught by full-time faculty.
- Nursing: Nursing faculty will be released from coordination assignments in order to spend more time in the classroom.
- Administrators providing advisement: Administrators will be trained to provide student advisement services during peak registration periods.
- Conference Day: Conference Day for 2010 will be cancelled.
- Cost reduction strategies: Cost reduction will be implemented in multiple areas, including maintenance, office supplies, energy consumption, printing, mail, equipment upgrades, entertainment, special events and cultural programming.
- Cutbacks in overtime availability will be in effect.
- Travel freeze remains in effect.
- Bottled water has been suspended.
As part of the cost reduction effort, the two existing provost positions (Academic/Student Services and Operations) have been combined into one position.
Beginning Monday, June 1, Dr. Rolando Montoya will assume the duties of College Provost. Dr. Mercy Quiroga, head of the New World School of the Arts, will replace Dr. Montoya as president of the Wolfson Campus. Dr. Jeffrey Hodgson will serve as interim provost of the New World School of the Arts.
Also beginning June 1, Dr. Jose Vicente will have oversight responsibility for West Campus, in addition to his duties as president of North Campus.
Beginning July 1, Dr. Norma Martin Goonen will serve as president of the Hialeah Campus and Dr. Armando Ferrer will serve as interim president of the Kendall Campus upon the departure of Dr. Gregory Gray.
This is a difficult time for all of us at MDC. We have been forced to the last resort of losing people who are valuable members of our community and drawing our belts tighter yet with regard to program operation. Your efforts and understanding throughout this trying period have been the glue that has kept us strong. As we move forward, your continued support is greatly appreciated.