Central Valley

President voices hope for the future of Cal State Stanislaus

TURLOCK — In a New Year's memo to staff and faculty, the president of California State University, Stanislaus, said the future remains murky but there's reason for hope.

Hamid Shirvani called on his colleagues to "work together to position our university to be strong and prepared for whatever lies ahead."

Analysts are predicting a $21 billion state deficit for the 2010-11 budget year, Shirvani said.

"Unabated, this could mean further reductions in funding to all sectors of the state budget, including the CSU," he said. He said the CSU system is lobbying the state for enough money to stave off fee increases.

CSU, Stanislaus, had to balance this fiscal year's budget with $13.5 million worth of spending cuts and fee increases. That was accomplished through staff and faculty furloughs, layoffs, and reduced class offerings and services.

At one point, it wasn't clear whether the university would have to make more cuts at midyear. Those spending reductions would have been made about this time of year. Shirvani on Tuesday assured faculty that further cuts won't be necessary this budget year.

"In fact, funded by stimulus monies, some additional courses and sections were opened for spring 2010 to help students continue progress toward their degree," he said in his memo.

The previous cuts, coupled with changes Shirvani has implemented in how the university is governed, contributed to an already rocky relationship between the president and his faculty.

In November, the faculty overwhelming passed a vote of no confidence in Shirvani.

Instructors on edge

Larry Giventer, professor of political science and the union faculty representative on campus, said Tuesday that he is cautiously optimistic there will be no further layoffs when the 2010-11 budget is adopted.

"At this point, I don't think it's likely," he said. He said the university system hasn't notified the union that cuts are coming, a necessary step before people lose their jobs.

Others don't share his view.

Giventer said the mood among his colleagues these days "varies from fatalistic to mad to disappointed to resigned to resolute."

"As part of this job, it's almost a daily occurrence to commiserate with faculty members, as well as providing as much factual information as possible," he said.

Students plan protest

Students, too, are concerned about more potential cuts.

They have held several protests at the campus, and a local contingent is planning to participate in a statewide "Strike and Day of Action" on March 4.

Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at pguerra@modbee.com or 578-2343.