Academic Affairs scraps allocation model


The system that has been used to allocate the university budget will be changed by Academic Affairs. Photo courtesy of Chico State

Chico State is superseding the allocation model it used to figure the approximately $114 million Academic Affairs budget and will transition to a new system.

Mike Ward, the newly appointed interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said last week the university is departing from the allocation model established under the leadership of Susan Elrod, the former interim provost who recently left Chico State for a position at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater.

“I’m working with the deans on that now,” Ward said. “We’re taking a fresh look.”

The Academic Affairs division commands the largest portion of the university budget. It funds each of the colleges, Meriam Library, Information Resources, Faculty Affairs, Academic Senate and various other departments on campus.

Infographic by Gabriel Sandoval


One academic year ago it claimed $117 million or 70.9 percent of the $165 million university budget, according to the OpenGov website for Chico State.


Ward said in previous years allocations were based on the full-time equivalent student, or FTES, number per college. But that changed under Elrod.

“Provost Elrod was doing something else,” he said. “We are definitely going to bring it back to an FTES-based model and allocation system.”

Ward said he is also reassessing other decisions made by Elrod.

Before the former interim provost left campus, Ward said Elrod tentatively approved a number of recommendations by deans for new faculty and staff hires.

Mike Ward plans to change the system that determines allocations for the university budget. Photo courtesy of Chico State

“Because of our budget issues I have to look at what’s a wise number of faculty to hire,” he said. “That’s all on the table right now.”

Ward said he needs a “deeper background” on the budget before any decisions are made.

When he was asked how many positions were being reviewed, he declined to offer a number. Instead, he said he had only been interim provost for a week and only saw “a list.”

“They are all being reconsidered,” he said.

Ward served as interim vice provost for budget and academic resources from August 2014 to February 2015, as well as special consultant to the former interim provost in a similar time frame, according to his curriculum vitae posted online.

He has also been a professor of mechanical and mechatronic engineering; dean of the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management; and interim dean of the Colleges of Business and Natural Sciences, among other leadership positions.

Budget woes

On Dec. 10, 2015, the Academic Senate voted in favor of a resolution of no confidence in President Paul Zingg, Elrod and vice president for business and finance, Lorraine Hoffman. In a letter sent five days later to the California State University Board of Trustees, CSU Chancellor Timothy White and others, Academic Senate leaders outlined the rationale behind the unprecedented resolution, including concerns for the Academic Affairs budget, which “caused many to question the competency of our executive administrators.”

“When the final budget allocations were released, shortly before Thanksgiving … Deans and support unit managers were clearly caught off guard and some instructed their chairs to begin planning severe cuts for spring,” the letter read.

On Nov. 20, the letter continued, “department chairs were being forced to decide whether or not to cancel classes and eliminate hundreds of seats for students, thereby deciding to lay off or reduce the workload of many part-time faculty and student workers” who expected to retain their employment through 2016.

Some classes were eventually canceled, but in January deans said that was not unusual. Judith Hennessey, dean of the College of Business, was asked if any classes were abruptly canceled and for the reasons of possible cancellations.

“We have not canceled any sections because of budgets,” Hennessey wrote in an email. “However, as always, we adjust schedule particulars for unexpected events (e.g. lost an instructor) and course enrollment shifts.”

In late January, Elrod told The Orion that in July 2015 she and the deans decided to change the allocation model because it “was not serving all colleges equally.”

She also said she was meeting with deans to discuss additional budget needs for their colleges. She noted $2.5 million of additional funds had already been approved.

Zingg, who retires in June, has said the resolution contains falsehoods.

Current affairs

Ward, who serves Chico State as a retired annuitant, said he isn’t sure if he wants to be considered for the job of permanent provost.

“I would have to unretire to do that,” he said. “I’ll have to see how I feel after six months whether I would consider that.”

For now, the interim provost said he is focused on the budget as he helps the university transition presidents.

Gabriel Sandoval can be reached at [email protected] or @GLuisSandoval on Twitter.