Board of Trustees will meet to discuss new budget plan

In less than a week, the Board of Trustees will meet at Guilford College, where it is expected that President and Professor of Political Science Kent Chabotar will unveil the college’s worse-case — a phrase used because “worst-case” implies that no scenario could be worse — contingency plan for the coming fiscal year.

Chabotar told The Guilfordian that the need for a “worse-case” plan was motivated by an estimated $2.9 million budget deficit.

“The ‘worse-case’ scenario is driven largely but not entirely by the anticipated loss in state-funded financial aid for North Carolina residents,” said Chabotar. “We don’t have the enrollment data for the next fiscal year until around March, so we cannot yet say whether we’ll need to rely on the worse-case scenarios yet.”

Should enrollment drop, the college would have to reduce its expenditures by $1–$2 million, which could affect student fees, endowment use, use of unrestricted funds, employee positions and compensation and operating budgets.

It is expected that the BOT will approve Chabotar’s plan, though details will not be made public until it has been discussed by the college’s administration and the BOT panel members.

Attorney Carole Bruce, chair of the BOT Budget Committee, said that she has faith in the budget process’s integrity.

“The decisions will be very difficult, but the good thing about an established, disciplined process is that the structure is well-defined and understood so that the most rational decisions can be made in the most difficult circumstances,” Bruce said.

Chabotar told The Guilfordian that there were many variables that he and other administrators such as Vice President of Finance Greg Bursavich were examining before presenting their findings to the BOT.

“I believe that if the worse case comes true, we will probably need two years to adjust,” said Chabotar. “Even I do not know the details in terms of priorities, positions and expenses. Greg (Bursavich) is now collecting ideas from vice presidents and others of where they would cut or add revenue if the ‘worse case’ occurs.”

Ben Heide, a senior peace and conflict studies major, told The Guilfordian that the implications of the potential worse-case scenario were disconcerting.

“I think a lot of my anger is directed towards the state legislature, mainly because it hurts the people who need the money the most,” said Heide. “As a student, I really hope that the Guilford community is able to step up and help make up some of the lost cash. Otherwise, Guilford may be seriously hurt in the loss of talent caused by cuts.”

Elijah DaCosta, a senior biology major, told The Guilfordian that even though the college is facing potential financial hardships, he trusts the college’s strategic plan.

“We have a strong long-range plan, and its successful implementation will increase our enrollment and help us to recover from this loss,” said DaCosta.

Tim Leisman, a junior peace and conflict studies major, told The Guilfordian that the potential cuts made him realize that Guilford College would have to make sacrifices.

“Cuts should be made in as effective a way as possible, while preserving our core values and staying true to what we are,” said Leisman.

However, some, like an adjunct professor who wished to remain anonymous, are not as optimistic as Leisman and DaCosta. The professor told The Guilfordian that losing even a part-time job would be a hardship.

“Right now, my discipline is experiencing a glut of people with Ph.D.s and a growing scarcity of jobs,” said the professor. “I would go from being over-educated and under-employed to being over-educated and unemployed.”

Until quantitative data is received by the college, there is no way to tell which departments, staff members and/or programs will be affected, if any at all.

Chabotar told The Guilfordian that it is important that the community know that examining worse-case possibilities is not new for the college, and there is a chance the college could do better than projected in the coming fiscal year.

“We have done better than the ‘worse-case’ scenario for almost every semester we have used it, including Spring 2012,” said Chabotar.