Chabotar Hosts Campus-Wide Budget Hearings

Open and participative: this is President Kent Chabotar’s goal for how to treat the college’s budgetary process.
“We are planning a community budget and seeking the involvement of the members of the community in that process,” Chabotar said at a campus-wide budget meeting held in Bryan Junior Auditorium on Jan. 15. “It will be a truly balanced budget. Not one that is balanced on the backs of one group or another.”
Over 100 students, faculty, and staff members attended the meeting updating the budgetary process.
“I attended because I had heard they were planning to raise tuition next year,” sophomore Doug Watts said. “Many of my questions regarding that issue were answered.”
The budget committee did in fact state that both tuition and room and board charges will likely rise next fall. Preliminary figures offered by the committee show an expected increase of 4.47%, or $800 in tuition and an increase of 2.77%, or $20 in room and board in the coming school year.
Chabotar urged those present to trust that the plans to increase tuition were being fully divulged, unlike in years past.
“Did you see the tuition-increase plan last year?” Chabotar said. “No. When we know the timeline and the precise numbers, you will. It’s not a secret.”
Despite Chabotar’s promise of openness, some students felt that the meeting was merely a formality, rather than a forum for community discussion.
“I don’t really know why students were invited,” said Watts. “It didn’t seem like the opinions of those present really mattered.”
Other students felt that the meeting was simply not what the attendees had anticipated. It wasn’t that student opinions didn’t matter, but that the meeting did not serve as a forum for discussion of those opinions.
“I felt like people came expecting a discussion or debate of the college’s vision, what programs we had to keep, and where to take this progress,” first-year Chris Wells said. “Instead we got college finance 101, which was helpful, sure, but not the meeting we really needed to have as a community.”
Chabotar expressed why he believed the campus-wide meeting was in fact beneficial to the community in a written statement.
“I intend budgeting, and decision making in general, to be as open as possible so that members of the community can appreciate the process even if they might not agree with the results on occasion,” Chabotar said.
“An all-campus meeting about the budget is one way to make an opaque area such as college finances more transparent to everyone.”
Mathematics Professor Elwood Parker, the chair of the budget committee, urged community members to seek out additional avenues of expression to compleiment campus-wide meetings in order to make their opinions heard.
“Those who have input and wish it to be heard should not only attend such meetings, but should convey their concerns to members of the committee,” Parker said. “All Guilford constituents (students, faculty, administration, and support staff) are represented on the committee.”
The committee members hope that the inclusion of the opinions from all aspects of the Guilford community will lead not only to a budget that is sound, but also “to better acceptance of the results since there has been opportunity for input,” Parker said.