An update on athletics, including a timeframe for when a decision will be made on deciding how many sports team Eastern should support, and an update on the budget were provided at Eastern President David Glassman’s State of the University speech.
Because of the end of the three-year budget impasse, highly conservative department budgets are now being loosened, and limited professional travel is also being brought back.
P-card use has also been reactivated for fiscal managers, effective immediately.
The new budget will allow for the hiring of new faculty in both Unit A, or tenure-track positions and Unit B, or non-tenure track, positions, designations and other operational staff positions for the university’s operation.
Glassman urged those in the audience not to go about their work as nothing had happened for the last three years, though.
“Spending must follow the very conservative parameters outlined by the administration for purchases to be limited to high operational needs with the approval from the deans and vice presidents,” Glassman said.
Glassman also talked about issues with the Pastern’s sports teams. He said while the athletic department has several major sources of funding, some have dropped in recent years.
The budget for sports teams has dropped in addition to a decrease of funds for scholarships, which many student athletes came to Eastern with. Possible remedies would mean disbanding some of Eastern’s sports teams.
Glassman said less than half of Eastern’s student-athletes are on scholarships and students who are partially covered by scholarships or not on scholarship at all must pay Eastern tuition and fees like any other student on campus.
The funds for scholarships are tied to university enrollment, so with the decrease of enrollment numbers, the amount of allocated funds for the scholarships also goes down, putting students at risk for losing award money.
Getting rid of these teams and a reduction in scholarship money could lead to student-athletes transferring out of Eastern in favor of another university, Glassman said.
“Eliminating one or more of these teams will have a negative impact on our general fund, which is central to university operations, faculty and staff salaries, faculty development and instructional equipment and supplies,” Glassman said.
The sports that would produce the greatest savings if they were eliminated are men’s and women’s basketball, football and volleyball, as these are the teams with the greatest percentage of students receiving scholarships. However, the Board of Trustees has indicated a desire to retain these four sports teams and they are not being considered for elimination, Glassman said.
The Board of Trustees has requested recommendations on how to tackle the issue by the end of the semester.
In his speech, Glassman gave an update on the vitalization project, undertaken last year to analyze programs around campus.
One of the many areas the vitalization project focused on was academics. Glassman said one aspect studied was the possibility of departments becoming more efficient in their work with more strategic scheduling of classes, revising or developing classes that he said could lead to increased enrollment or moving graduate programs online.
Glassman said he asked members of the Council of Chairs to review the recommendations made by workgroups no. 8 and 9, which looked at program development and the organizational structure of the academic colleges.
“With the large number of recommendations, and noting their diversity, we will need to create a process early this semester for faculty and administration to vet the recommendations collaboratively and to determine appropriate plans of action,” Glassman said.
Samuel Nusbaum can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]