News and Notes

A Newsletter for Faculty and Staff of Idaho State University

September 08, 2009 — Vol. 25 No. 27

Fall Generally Assembly held Sept. 2

President Vailas, addressing faculty and staff at the Fall General Assembly

Senior administrators thanked Idaho State University faculty and staff for their help and sacrifices seeing the University through a difficult time, and warned that the state could face further budget cuts this fall at ISU President Arthur Vailas’ Fall Generally Assembly held Sept. 2.

President Vailas, Vice President of Finance James Fletcher and Vice President of Research Pamela Crowell spoke at the event before a full Pond Student Union Bengal Theater. Senior administrators also fielded questions from ISU Faculty Senate Chair Alan Frantz and from audience members.

To start of his portion of the program Vailas acknowledged the “tremendous effort” by the faculty, staff and student body of “working together to overcome tremendous challenges.” Throughout his talk Vailas commended university employees and recounted the Universities successes, progress and benchmarks of the last year. He also noted a new round of budget cuts is a distinct possibility this year, but the University should be on firmer ground to deal with them.

“We don’t know what the economic outlay will be, but we have prepared ourselves for the worst,” Vailas said. “There is another hurricane brewing.”

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is scheduled to meet with Cabinet members on Sept. 10 to discuss potential savings, with leading Republicans in the Legislature on Sept. 11 and with leading legislative Democrats on Sept. 16 to discuss the budget shortfall and options for dealing with it.

“We at Idaho State University have weathered a range of holdback and funding cuts, and we’re not out of the woods yet,” noted Vice President Fletcher, “but I can earnestly say that the facts will show we have done a better job than our sister institutions in planning for this and implementing those plans that have minimized impact on human capital and the overall functioning of Idaho State University.”

During last year’s holdbacks and budget cuts the university’s top priorities were to “maximize non-human reductions,” preserve core tenure and tenure-track faculty and minimize impact on student services, according to Fletcher. The University also tried to implement personnel reductions in “as humane a way as possible” giving as much advanced notice as possible.

Despite last year’s budget reductions amounting to $12 million, the institution was able to increase its reserve funds from $211,000 to more than $3 million. These new reserve funds should provide a short-term cushion against further cuts.

“Basically, our financial ship is in good order, although we are sailing through very troubled seas,” Fletcher said.

“ISU is coming out of this challenge better and stronger than we went into it. Because of that we will be able to build an even better university,” he added.

Vailas noted that, despite the state appropriated budget cuts and a sour economy, ISU is on firm ground as an institution. The University no longer faces the “serious accreditation issues” it had when Vailas took office and with regards to accreditation it “has a clean bill of health.”

ISU has major strides in its financial integrity, modernizing its accounting practices, which is and will be helped further by the new Enterprise Resource Planning system that is starting to be in use. Because of the new financial accounting systems in place ISU can now better make better-informed, data-driven financial decisions.

Some of the highlights and successes of the last year Vailas cited included:

For comprehensive coverage of the assembly visit http://twitter.com/IdahoStateU, which consists of Twitter tweets broadcast during the gathering.

The assembly was broadcast to Boise and Idaho Falls, and video footage of the assembly is available online at http://www.isu.edu/president/.