As Winthrop University braces for more cuts in state money, the school's president assured the faculty Friday of one thing: uncertainty.
“We'd like more clarity,” President Anthony DiGiorgio told an auditorium full of instructors. “We'd like more certainty. We have no certainty.”
DiGiorgio's budget presentation during Friday's faculty conference marked the first time he's addressed the group since he announced in early December that the entire staff must take nine days of unpaid leave.
In his hourlong presentation, DiGiorgio described the university's budget woes and his response.
Since October, lawmakers have in two swipes gutted $4.7million in state money from Winthrop. More cuts could come in February and May, depending on tax revenue. Next school year could be even worse.
“We have never had to shift gears this quickly,” DiGiorgio said.
The question now, he said, is: “How do you operate in this environment?”
So far, Winthrop has not stopped promoting staff, clipped the library's collection of material or canceled professional travel. Research grants haven't been touched and necessary academic expenses are still funded.
Class sizes, however, are expected to grow as positions go unfilled. Some elective courses have already been canceled, buildings are closing earlier and students have been hit with a $50 fee.
“The faculty, I think, was very appreciative of DiGiorgio taking the time,” said Scott Huffmon, an associate professor of political science. “Some of the buzz I've heard is some of the faculty want details instead of generalities.”
Later in Friday's meeting, the faculty passed a resolution to survey the entire staff about their financial priorities.
The hope is that it will get employees' concerns included in financial discussions, said Karen Kedrowski, chairwoman of the political science department, who introduced the resolution.
Kedrowski said she wasn't sure how the faculty took DiGiorgio's presentation.
“I thought he did a really good job,” she said. “He related it to national and state policy trends.
“What he did not give, that I think some of the faculty are hungering for, was a nuts and bolts breakdown of what did he cut and why, and what can we expect next year.”
The group also voted Friday to create a committee of faculty members who would be elected to act as a conduit with the president and other administrators.