East Bay’s Lack of Budget Transparency

Isaac Coleman, Political Editor

How Cal State East Bay handles its budget.

California State University, East Bay faculty have been called on to start dropping classes with low enrollment earlier every year. Most of this is coming from the top down. 

President Cathy Sandeen was appointed to her position as President in October 2020. According to her Curriculum Vitae, she has built herself by being focused on ensuring that organizations make or save significant amounts of money.

Her CV reveals that in her time at UCLA from 2006 to 2012, she expressed that she was responsible for “revenue and surplus growth despite challenging economic environment.” As the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin-Extension, 2014-2018, one of her key achievements was the “streamlined structure and operations and achieved over $8 million in annual savings.” 

At the University of Alaska, Anchorage, where she was the Chancellor from 2018 until she became the President at CSUEB, one of her three key achievements was “major budget reductions.” 

Overall, this information leads to a very corporate idea of education in her own words. 

As the President of CSUEB, she finds herself in a predicament given her background versus the reality that CSUEB is not a college that is over-bloated with money and cannot manage itself. This can be seen in the financial transparency report that shows that CSUEB has made more money every year since the 2016-2017 school year. 

In fact, between the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years, CSUEB brought in nearly six million more dollars. 

At the beginning of the Spring 2022 semester, CSUEB faculty were warned that classes with low enrollment would be dropped, leading to the Political Science Department attempting to recruit students to attend classes utilizing social media and email campaigns. This first warning came about before financial aid had been dispersed, and many students were still concerned about their schedules with work or other responsibilities. A school that makes more money should not be too concerned about dropping classes before all students have a chance to enroll.

“Budgets are complex topics,” Dr. Kim Greer, CSUEB’s Interim Provost. The question still remains why CSUEB slashes budgets to save money when more money is made every year. 

There is a concern surrounding expected low enrollment rates, which affects tuition, one of the primary sources of income for the school. However, this has stayed roughly at $130 million every year within the 2017-2021 fiscal year group. 

“These different sources of support oftentimes have restrictions for how they are utilized,” Greer noted, such as “the philanthropic dollars recently raised for the new Applied Sciences Center are designated specifically for that new building.”

Most of the increase in money from the last academic year to this one has come from Federal Grants and Contracts. This money is often also earmarked for specific purposes as well. Overall, most of the money that the school has made is said to be earmarked for specific projects. 

Dr. Christina Chin-Newman, the Vice Chair of the Academic Senate, has addressed concerns among faculty and staff that the Administration is not as concerned with their issues as it should be. “Budget to the faculty and staff associations would be a start” at ensuring a feeling of overall inclusion and appreciation because “they have never, to [her] understanding, been funded from the administrative perspective,” she said.  

When asked about budgetary allocations to the separate colleges at CSUEB, Kim Hawkins, the News and Information Manager, was unable to provide information surrounding this topic. The Pioneer is waiting on a response from the CSUEB’s Subpoena and Public Records Office to obtain a more detailed budget sheet. The Pioneer will be updated as soon as updates happen regarding the status of the submitted public records request. 

Sandeen addressed the concern about classes being dropped early by guaranteeing that “the university is not dropping any low-enrollment classes at this time, as registration for Fall 2022 is just underway.” 

Hopefully, this will continue to extend until financial aid dispersals have been sent out or at least guaranteed for many students and hopefully ensure that students do not have to choose between their lives outside of academics or their academic life. 

Provost Greer also reiterated that “Cal State East Bay is a good steward of our resources, and we use those resources to accomplish our educational mission.” 

Seeing as how much of this is still kept relatively quiet from the student body, there is no way to validate the legitimacy of this claim.