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GCC board approves budget

Press release:

Last week, the Genesee Community College Board of Trustees unanimously approved a $38.70 million budget for the 2014-2015 academic year. The budget increases expenses by 1.65 percent over last year's $38.07 million budget.

The budget now moves to the Genesee County Legislature's Ways and Means Committee, which will review the budget prior to its submission to the Genesee County Legislature, sponsor of the College.

The budget covers the fiscal year beginning Sept. 1. It is a carefully constructed, maintenance-of-effort budget, said President James M. Sunser. The budget provides for inflationary cost increases and maintains the quality of academic programs, but holds costs down wherever possible, Sunser said.

The 2014-2015 budget:

• Increases tuition for full-time students by $75 per semester, bringing tuition from $1,850 per semester to $1,925 per semester. Tuition for part-time students will increase by $5 per credit hour, from $150 to $155. The College's Technology fee will increase from $25 to $50 per semester for full-time students, and the new Academic Support Fee will be $25 per semester for full-time students. Both fees help the College maintain the quality of academic technology and instructional support services to students. The majority of Genesee students will see the increases covered by their financial assistance packages, and Genesee remains one of the most affordable colleges in the SUNY system, Sunser told trustees.

• Holds College staffing at current levels.

• Provides for anticipated increases in the cost of heating and lighting, other building-related costs, and contractually obligated salary and wage increases.

• Assumes New York State "base aid" at $2,497 per full-time-equivalent student. While the New York State Legislature and Governor approved this figure for 2014-2015, it is almost 7-percent less than the $2,675 the College received five years ago.

• Asks Genesee County to consider an increase in sponsorship support of $500,000, to $2.53 million. Sunser noted that there is increased interest throughout the SUNY system in creating "regional" community colleges instead of locally sponsored colleges, and that increasing sponsor support may help preserve local sponsorship as well as save Genesee County money over the long term.

Developing the 2014-2015 budget was one of the most challenging fiscal tasks facing GCC in recent years, Sunser said.

"We are committed to maintaining our position as one of the nation's great community colleges, but we face declining state support, increased inflation, and a tighter regulatory environment," he said. "Putting together a budget that combines programmatic excellence, fiscal conservatism, and affordability for students is indeed a challenge."

Trustees believed the College had met the challenge head-on. Trustee Benjamin J. Bonarigo called the 2014-2015 fiscal plan "a remarkable budget." He said that "building a budget with only a 1.65-percent increase is a great testament to the hard work of Dr. Sunser, Kevin Hamilton [vice president for Finance and Operations], and the entire administration."

In other business at the May meeting, the Board of Trustees:

• Approved the granting of degrees and certificates to 646 Genesee students this month, subject to their satisfactory completion of academic requirements. Eighteen students will receive the associate in arts (A.A.) degree; 273 students, the associate in science (A.S.) degree; 303 students, the associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree, and 52 students, certificates.

• Approved Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Kathleen (Kate) Schiefen membership of GCC's 25 Advisory Committees, and the introduction of the new Online Learning Advisory Committee. The refreshed roster of members in all 26 committees includes more than 330 GLOW-area professionals. Through their important work and their collective contribution, they ensure the consistent high quality programs that GCC students and the community have come to expect.

• Heard Chair Maureen T. Marshall propose the four-member Nominating Committee. Appointed were Laurie A. Miller, Chair; Benjamin J. Bonarigo, Peter R. Call and Donna M. Ferry.

• Heard the probationary appointment of David Johnson, Ph.D., as GCC's new biology instructor. Johnson has been a GCC adjunct instructor and advisor in biochemistry and molecular biology since 2006. He has taught at Finger Lakes Community College and Nazareth College, co-authored several science publications, and he also serves as a volunteer firefighter in Spencerport.

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