Understanding the EmOC Budgeting Process with 2020-2021 Insights – The Siskiyou

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An interview with Greg Perkinson provides insight into the inner workings of the SOU budgeting process.

Without a budget, most schools, businesses and/or organizations would collapse and college budgets are basically the backbone of every university. University budgets lay out a sheet of income and expenses to see where a university might be lacking and need additional help from public or private funding. In a budget, there are several different moving parts that may seem too complex for a student to grasp, but the Siskiyou recently had a great opportunity to sit down with SOU’s Vice President of Finance and Administration, Greg Perkinson.

Perkinson has served as Vice President of Finance and Administration since 2017 and is part of SOU’s leadership team. Perkinson helps manage a few different departments, such as business services, budget office, human resources, facilities management and planning, campus public safety, information technology, service center, and the university accommodation. Perkinson earned a degree in architecture from Kent State University. He also earned a master’s degree in architectural engineering from Penn State University.

Perkinson explained the budget process and how financial operations work here at SOU. The budget is divided into two categories: income and expenditure. Income and expenses try to balance each other out to create a stable financial institution, although there is always a goal of having some income left over as this will help cover the costs for the next financial year. the income include tuition, state stipends, and compulsory fees. the expenses are personnel, PEOs (pension and benefits) and supplies and services.

From Tuition Advisory Board (TAC) meeting documents, they quote, “budgets are a continuum, not a single snapshot.” EmOC budgets revolve around fluctuating numbers each year due to market inflation/deflation. These budget figures are mainly based on the number of student enrollments due to the tuition and fees that each student pays. Tuition ranks #1 in SOU revenue, and as Perkinson put it, “enrollment generates revenue.”

The TAC is made up of staff, faculty and students. The purpose of the TAC is to review tuition and compulsory fees and make a recommendation to the President. The TAC is a great way for students and faculty to have some say in discussions about the cost of attendance. The council is also linked to the new taxation House Bill 4141.

A budget is developed with the help of a few different departments before being approved. It is shared with the president of the university who then presents it to the governor of Oregon appointed board of directors. SOU has 14 directors. The chairman of the board of directors is Daniel P.Santos and the vice president is Dr. Jonathon Bullock.

However, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on all universities. During the interview with Perkinson, he highlighted a few charts and graphs related to student enrollment numbers. “When COVID hit, we had already launched cost reduction measures. What we’ve seen is a significant drop in registrations, which has led to a significant drop in revenue. We worked hard to make up for that revenue loss to keep our financial health as good as possible…one thing that was requested was that the faculty take time off…and we probably saved about $7 million. Now that was key because we were compensated for about $11 million in lost revenue…it was tough on the students. It was hard on the faculty. It was difficult for staff as a lot of people were working remotely,” Perkinson said.

According to the last Board of Directors (January) meeting materials, SOU in the 2020-21 school year saw a 12.4% decrease in student credit hours from the previous year. The number increased from 161,611 to 143,764 credit hours.

Currently, SOU ranks third among the most affordable schools in Oregon according to Academic influence. However, according to SOU’s own comparators update of 2020-2021, SOU is ranked fourth with tuition and compulsory fees averaging $11,166 for full-time undergraduate students. On this list, Eastern Oregon University is ranked first at a cost of $9,696.

In a snapshot view, Perkinson has high hopes for the 2022-23 fiscal year. In terms of revenue, “we get about $26 million from the state. It’s awesome. We enjoy every moment of it,” Perkinson said. Regarding enrollment numbers, Perkinson said, “It’s early in the database, but the trajectory is very positive…we’re working to do our best with retention.”

Addressing the SOU students, Perkinson said, “Thank you. The pandemic has been very hard on everyone. We really did our best to keep people safe during the storm. We have a fantastic board. We have a fantastic new president. So keep doing your best to learn, grow, protect yourself, and do what you need to do to be successful. We’re here for you. We will do our best to find a source of income. We will do our best to manage expenses. So we appreciate your grace and trust…and we’ll see you on the other side.

The next meeting of the finance and administration committee will be on March 17 and the next meeting of the board of directors will be on April 22.

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