Deficit concerns drive cutbacks across campus

During his campus address in September, interim President Howard Cohen identified a plan to address six focus areas he deemed crucial to the college’s future. Cohen called these the “Six Priorities,” which he will oversee this year while Buffalo State searches for its next president. This is the sixth story of six that will run in The Record to elaborate on the President’s plans as they come to fruition.


With a recent deficit of $3.2 million, all funds budgeting at SUNY Buffalo State is a serious focus for Interim President Howard Cohen’s list of priorities.

Much of the operating budget comes from New York State funding and tuition payments by students. However, it doesn’t always cover everything.

“There is an operating deficit in what are called our general purpose funds,” Cohen said. “Those are the ones that come from the state.”

Cohen said that those are the main funds used to run the university. He said what was budgeted will have to be cut back so that what is being taken in is not less than what is spent.

Cuts have already been made during this academic year to help remedy the deficit. Michael LeVine, vice president of finance and management, said that some empty positions at Buffalo State were dropped to help make up for the deficit. Levine said that the decision to cut unfilled positions was made by each unit.

“In some units, they gave up all of their vacant positions, and other units, they still have vacant positions,” LeVine said.

Levine said that cutting back on other costs like office supplies and equipment within departments will also help save on operating costs. He said that lobbying the state for more funds in the future could also help.

Already, half the deficit has been made up for. Cohen said that $1.2 million will be used from a reserve account to help cover the deficit.

“In past years, when we’ve collected more tuition that we’ve budgeted for, we could save the money in a reserve account for just an occasion like this when we’ve collected less revenue than we budgeted for,” Cohen said.

Cohen said that fewer students enrolled this academic year than expected.

“You can never be perfect in what you estimate … you’re always going to be a little over or a little under,” Cohen said.

Cohen’s intention for implementing the six priorities was to move Buffalo State in the right direction as an institution.

“A lot of the things we’re doing are related to the president’s six priorities,” LeVine said. “Whether the enrollment, the review of academic programs, the all funds budgeting are all a response to the budget situation.”

Since the operating budget relies on state funding and tuition, developing facilities and programs will result in a more successful budget. As the institution grows with programs like Start-Up New York, it will become more appealing to prospective students. Keeping Buffalo State up to date and relevant will help bring in more money.

LeVine said to raise awareness about the need to cut back for the sake of the budget, there have been meetings with the dean and the College Senate. The college planning council, which is a group of faculty, staff and administrators that focus on the budget, has also been informed about the deficit.

LeVine said that to recover from the deficit, enrollment would have to increase by 200 students.

“We would be in a position where we wouldn’t have to make any additional cuts,” LeVine said. “We wouldn’t have surplus money, either, but we call 200 students our break even point.”

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