While DePaul still faces the same uncertain enrollment trends that are occurring throughout higher education, the university is starting the new year with positive news from its annual budgeting process.
Under a proposed budget for fiscal year 2015-16, DePaul would increase its match of employees' 403(b) contributions and fund a compensation pool for eligible full-and part-time faculty, staff and student employees. Additionally, funding would be provided, primarily for students, to increase wages to a minimum of $10/hour as required by recently enacted legislation. Student tuition and fees will remain as low as possible and new faculty lines and staff positions will be added to support growing academic programs.
The Strategic Resource Allocation Committee, known as SRAC, recommended the proposed $542 million budget to Interim President Patricia O'Donoghue who accepted the proposal in December with minor adjustments. The finance committee of the Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed the proposed budget at its December meeting and will recommend it for full Board of Trustees approval later this spring.
The faculty, staff and student representatives of SRAC met throughout the fall to learn about DePaul's financial position and expected outlook. Its nine voting members considered broad financial decisions, such as tuition pricing and employee compensation, when recommending a comprehensive university budget.
Since DePaul earns most of its revenue from tuition, enrollment projections largely guide how SRAC budgets university spending in the coming fiscal year. With continuing volatility in higher education enrollment trends across the country, the board finance committee asked SRAC to operate under a conservative enrollment estimate. Under this direction, total enrollment for fiscal year 2015-16 is projected to decline 2.4 percent to 23,229 students.
To help the university remain competitive with other institutions, the university's Tuition Pricing Committee recommended very moderate increases for new undergraduate students, with a lower increase for continuing students and new graduate students. Overall, financial aid will increase by nearly 8 percent over the prior year's budget to $201 million. The aid will be dedicated to honoring commitments to continuing undergraduate students and supporting new scholarship strategies for graduate and law students.
"The members of SRAC should be commended for their careful deliberations during the recent budgeting cycle," said the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president. "They took their responsibility to our university very seriously and crafted a budget that reflects care for our students as well as respect for the hard work of all DePaul faculty and staff. I am grateful for the time and energy they placed into serving on this committee."
In last year's budgeting process, SRAC recommended $30 million in cost reductions across the university. This year's proposed budget includes cost reductions totaling $17 million that will be spread throughout the university's three executive areas: the Offices of Academic Affairs, the Offices of the Executive Vice President and the Offices of the President.
"Throughout its deliberations, SRAC kept the university's mission in mind as it searched for ways to balance the economic challenges faced by the university with the needs of its students and employees," said Executive Vice President Bob Kozoman, who chairs SRAC. "While DePaul will continue looking for ways to become a leaner institution, the university is in a good position to support growing programs."
Voting members of SRAC
- Bonnie Frankel, vice president for finance
- Robert Kozoman, executive vice president
- David Miller, interim provost
- Thomas Mondschean, Faculty Council representative
- Robert Ryan, Staff Council president
- Matthew von Nida, Student Government Association president
- Ray Whittington, dean, Driehaus College of Business
- Michaela Winchatz, Faculty Council president
- Paul Zionts, dean, College of Education