Unlike many colleges, public and private, during the current recession, Oswego State has so far managed to continue its educational programs and implement innovations with few painful accommodations to significant reductions in state revenues.
Anticipating another year or two of funding challenges for New York state, more than a hundred members of the Oswego campus community have joined the newly formed online Ning network to brainstorm ways to reduce costs, increase revenue and reinvest in the college for a robust future.
President Deborah F. Stanley told the campus Budget Advisory Group at its March 31 meeting that she planned to extend the conversation campus-wide, and on April 9 all employees received an invitation to join the Oswego State Saving Strategies network.
Oswego State Saving Strategies is described as "an interactive forum for the campus community to offer savings, revenue opportunities and reinvestment ideas for sustaining excellence."
The forum’s welcome message states that "we are embarking on a campus-wide effort to save $1 million over the next fiscal year through organizational efficiencies and revenue enhancements in order to protect and sustain the strength and character of SUNY Oswego. We are looking for bold, innovative ideas that are game-changing or extraordinary in savings and will also increase or enhance services to students and the greater community."
Speaking with the Budget Advisory Group, Stanley called the Ning network "an idea aggregator." She said she plans for the group to form three subcommittees to review and evaluate forthcoming ideas: one for savings, one for revenue generators and one for reinvestments. She suggested that 10 percent of savings be earmarked for reinvestment.
Ideas voiced at the March 31 meeting included consolidating photocopiers on campus into fewer but much more advanced machines; a campus-devised early retirement incentive; mileage savings by reducing use of personal vehicles; and reinvesting in grant writers.
Early ideas surfacing last week in the Ning forum included looking at the energy efficiency of campus drinking fountains and starting a money-making weekly folk music coffeehouse.
For 2010-11, Oswego State faces a budget reduction of $2.3 to $2.4 million, Stanley has said, after taking into account a proposed $100 tuition increase.
From 2007-08 to date, the college has absorbed $6.5 million in reductions in state support but has managed to preserve educational opportunities and services for students, largely by tapping institutional reserves and energy savings and by refraining from filling all vacant positions.