Welcome to Spring Quarter 2009

April 6, 2009

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to spring quarter. For those of you who enjoyed a week's break, I trust it gave you some breathing room, and time with friends and family. We owe, as usual, great appreciation to those staff, faculty and administrators who labored through the break to register and enroll our students, and to get the rooms and grounds in great shape for their return.

Our biggest news, of course, is President Obama's nomination of our own Chancellor Martha Kanter as Under Secretary of Education. We look forward to Senate confirmation of Martha's appointment to the second highest position in the Department of Education, overseeing all of higher education policy, financial aid, vocational education and more.

Her nomination is a wonderful sign of the administration's appreciation of the importance of the community colleges to the nation and its economic recovery, and a personal tribute to one of the country's most dedicated advocates for access and equity in higher education. Martha will bring her trademark focus, intelligence and personal warmth to a host of issues facing higher education and the country, and we will all be the better for her service in Washington. It is also true that her departure from Foothill-De Anza will leave a huge void. We will miss her enormously, even as we wish her every possible success in Washington.

Budget news: As you are aware from previous messages, governance communications and our own budget Web site (http://www.deanza.edu/budgetinfo/), we face an unprecedented budget crisis in the district, even if we have sufficient one-time funds to give us a little time to figure out our options. Put simply, the district has a structural deficit, the state will not provide on-going funds to make up the difference, and we will have to bring our budget into balance during this next fiscal and academic year.

As it currently stands, the district's $11 million deficit (largely the result of increased health benefits costs, as well as last year's compensation adjustments beyond the cost of living allowance and increased operating expenses) has been winnowed to $5.1 million. The reduction of the deficit was achieved through adjusting a variety of cost estimates and reducing low-enrolled classes, as well as the suspension or elimination of 26 positions districtwide, including the suspension of nine unfilled positions at De Anza. Our reduction of the Job Corps program also contributed $2.5 million to this reduced deficit figure. However, please keep in mind that we must make up the Job Corps enrollment of 1,400 in our base next year to retain the level of funding we get from the state, so outreach, marketing and enrollment management will be critical.

Faced with the remaining $5.1 million structural deficit, the bottom line is this, to echo Martha in her message of Feb. 25: Without changes to our collective bargaining and meet-and-confer agreements, additional filled positions will have to be suspended or eliminated. The current plan is to identify these positions by May 20, then backfill those reductions with one-time money.

As many of you have pointed out, it may not be practical to further reduce our "B" budgets with so little existing operating budget with which to serve our students. So we are faced with the suspension of as many as 32 additional general fund positions at De Anza, a truly horrible prospect when our entire non-teaching staff and administrators on campus number 259. There are no words for the human toll that such a reduction would take. The only mitigating factors are that we have sufficient one-time funds to carry those positions through June 2010, and that we will make every effort to minimize the disruption to the lives of our colleagues by placing as many affected employees as possible in other district positions that arise through retirements or other attrition and by assisting them in other ways. The dichotomy remains that we will be hiring faculty to keep up enrollment and to meet the state's minimum hiring obligation at the same time we may be reducing non-teaching staff.

I have begun meeting with divisions and departments throughout the college to provide a face-to-face opportunity for staff and faculty to talk about the budget crisis and our options. The Planning and Budget teams that partially comprise our shared governance structure are currently discussing their priorities as they search for ways to reduce budgets, and they will provide proposals to College Council before May 20, when the board of trustees wishes to see our proposals for handling the deficit.

Beyond meeting with divisions and departments, I will establish an open office hour from 12:30 to 1:30 on most Tuesdays, beginning April 21. Look for a MeetingMaker invitation. Anyone can feel entirely free to come on by with questions, rumors you've heard or suggestions for balancing the budget. I'll also be working with the Academic Senate and the Classified Senate to try to devise ways we could have wider discussion of the budget on campus.

The budget frames many of our options, but does not limit our commitment to our students. I am always struck by the degree to which De Anza College continues to reach out and engage our students, their families and their communities, and how our students themselves respond to crisis. They have come to us in unprecedented numbers, and we will work with them to realize their dreams and hopes. Thank you for your work, and once again, welcome to the spring quarter.

Brian Murphy

Back to Top