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President Addresses Fiscal State of the University

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Last week, President Fram Virjee addressed members of the Academic Senate with his biannual (fall/spring) “Fiscal State of the University” presentation.

First, the good news: the governor reinstated the $299 million cut from the CSU’s baseline budget for last year.

Before going into how this will likely impact the current fiscal year, Virjee first explained why the campus is in an overall sound financial position as it starts the year and identified some of the challenges CSUF faces moving forward.

“In the wake of 20 months of navigating this pandemic and all it has wrought on our economy and budget, it is even more noteworthy that we are in a sound financial situation. Upon our return to campus this fall, there are many reasons why there are more dollars available than we anticipated a year ago.”

The campus’s belt-tightening measures and fiscal responsibility leading up to and during the pandemic helped mitigate some of the impact of these losses.

CSUF’s ongoing advocacy efforts to correct the inequity that for decades has placed CSUF at the bottom of the CSU funding ladder have finally garnered the attention of the Chancellor’s Office, and, more importantly, a promise to address the issue.

The university’s share of the federal CARES/HEERF funds were critical in at least partially reimbursing many of the expenses and losses incurred directly from the pandemic.

And the unanticipated speed with which the state’s economy rebounded and the historic CSU funding in the governor’s final budget gives the campus some breathing room that wasn’t expected a year ago. 

Despite this good news, challenges still remain.

While the Chancellor’s Office recognizes the inequities that placed CSUF at the bottom of CSU funding, this does not erase the ramifications of the nearly quarter century where CSUF was underfunded.

The vast majority of the historic baseline funding increase simply restored the campus to where it was pre-pandemic; most of the funding is already committed to existing or anticipated expenditures.

The one-time funds will not make a significant dent in CSUF’s ever-growing deferred maintenance needs — needs that already exceed $300 million.

And most importantly, it does not (nor could) relieve the pain or heartache brought on by this pandemic.

“And yet, we are back on campus, working hard, and finding a way to do more with less,” Virjee said. “I am confident that the resulting budgetary decisions have positioned the university to utilize its limited dollars for maximum faculty, staff and student success in a way that best furthers our mission.”

For detailed budget information, see the 2021/22 Operating Fund Budget/Expenditure Summary Report.

Valerie Orleans