At a time when money is a sensitive topic amongst the campus community members, an extensive amount of money was spent on catering last fiscal year.
According to Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs William Seigh, half a million dollars was spent campus-wide on catering. Academic Affairs spent $201,494 of that money with $45,628 coming from the General Operating Budget (such as tuition) with the remainder coming from gift, grant and revenue money.
Seigh said, “I think as an institution, when we are looking at budget reductions across the campus we need to look at, where is it needed?” He added it is being looked at how the college can be wiser with its money.
As Keene State College makes cutbacks in various areas, catering is also certainly one of them.
Most of this money that was spent on catering includes meals and refreshments that are served at staff meetings, training sessions and student advising.
“I love collaborating with my colleagues and when we collaborate on any number of activities it’s always nice to have food with us, but can we bring the food in ourselves? Maybe we can get a meal before or after. There are also times where the workload is such that I think it’s wisest to have food available,” Seigh said.
Budgets for Academic Affairs are assessed by the Budget Manager, Michelle Fuller. Seigh and Fuller work with the deans of each of the schools, and the directors of academic programs on campus. They discuss for each proposal what is needed, what’s available and how they are going to make it work.
“We have the budget managers within each division, each of the deans and the directors manage their own budgets. I provide support to them. I pull reports, so when are are trying to look at what was spent last year in any particular type of category, food being one of them, I can pull reports out of the database.”
Seigh said, “For the most part as a campus, I think we need to ask ourselves, is it needed? Is it necessary? Is it nice? Can we do without? And so like the opening meeting I had, I missed the muffin but the meeting went just fine with having coffee and tea and we were still able to get together as a campus and community to talk.”
He continued, “One of the bottom lines in Academic Affairs is we want to make sure student programs and student education and student learning is fully supported. If in fact I have to, or choose to do without a muffin or breakfast at a meeting so there can be greater funds to support students at this point, that seems like a very smart choice.”
Seigh said he is asking everyone in Academic Affairs to be conscious with their spending this year. Also, he said that his hopes are that the message is clear across campus that it is time to make different decisions (regarding spending) than those of the past.
“What’s happening on our campus right now I think is a very beneficial exercise even though it’s challenging and sometimes even tedious. We are really looking at all of our expenses and saying, ‘just because we have done it in the past, is it the right thing to do now?’ Sometimes the answer to that is yes, and sometimes the answer to that is yes and more, and sometimes the answer is yes that was excellent in the past but there’s a new way to do it,” Seigh said.
He mentioned how now that the college has to cut back, it isn’t as simple or quick to decide on budgets as it has been in past years.
Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Kemal Atkins said catering is also something that his office is cutting back on.
“For example, my office used to provide juice and coffee for staff meetings. We don’t do that anymore and we haven’t for two years now. If you’re looking at an area to reduce that will have minimal impact on students, primarily because I think that’s what we focus on as an institution, you look at those areas first where you can reduce [which] won’t have a negative impact,” Atkins said.
According to Atkins, Academic Affairs is mostly supported by tuition revenue and its budget is not supported by fees unless it’s a fee that is associated with a course or a lab. Student Affairs is funded by student fees, such as the student activity fee or enrollment fee. It also receives the Pepsi grant.
The spending on catering from the Student Affairs office mainly focuses on student events.
“The majority of our spending in Student Affairs is a wide range. There’s some in my office, new student orientation, admitted student days, clubs and organizations,” Atkins said.
He added he is still figuring out exact figures and that Keene State is always looking for ways to manage its resources better.
“As a campus we are making sure we can align our expenditures with our revenue, identify places that we can be more effective and efficient with our resources so that we can continue to focus on the student experience in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom,” Atkins said.
Seigh and Atkins agreed with the importance pertaining to matching expenses with the revenue at the college.
Seigh said, “If we can arrive at a place that we are matching expense and revenue more closely we will be a stronger campus.”
Emma Hamilton can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org