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MassArt Budget Advisory Committee

December 6, 2017

Meeting Notes




Committee Members Present:

Bob Perry, Chair Kathryn Riel, Co-Chair Howie LaRosee              

Susana Segat Kara Mackie Dwayne Farley

Jim Cambronne Ernie Plowman Bob Gerst

Kyle Brock Don Arpino


Committee Members Not Present:

Jamie Costello, Co-Chair Chris Wright Ezra Shales

Katelyn Costello Elizabeth Freeman-Smith Luanne Witkowski


President David Nelson greeted the committee and briefly discussed his priorities, the strategic plan process and the future of the committee and a 2-3 year process of building the committee into one which interacts with the community and can bring the ideas from the community forward to inform the budget, strategic plan, and priorities of the president.  The president would like the committee to focus on priorities and provide a list for FY19 budget.


Review of the November notes and discussion of this committee as non-governance and of the style of notes, notes compared to minutes, and the style preferred for future meetings.  Committee members who would like to make edits to this and future meeting notes may send their edits to the committee chair and/or co-chairs for inclusion, as discussed at the previous meeting.


The committee was asked to brainstorm priorities to make best use of time in meeting and in weeks before the Cabinet presentation in January.  After the Cabinet presentation the committee can look at priorities and goals moving into the next budget cycle.

  • Make Budget Documents more accessible – are located Budget Page on Wiki.
  • Establish Committee Presence on Wiki and make documents more accessible – located on Committee Page, under Budget Page on Wiki.
  • Policies – talk about specifics.
  • Attend to this committee regarding structure, is the ratio of faculty/Staff/Students viable moving forward?
  • How does the committee want to communicate with the community and gather ideas?
  • List of Deficiencies.
  • Send Chairs proposal, bring those responses to committee and choose, then reach back to chairs.
  • Budget Document changes: Budget vs. Actual
  • Create ways for community to offer ideas; form, email, or other mechanism.
  • Knowing what sophomore strain will be – enrollment group is tasked with understanding the impact of this larger class as it migrates.
  • Provide categories and ask how the budget process can be changed.
  • Fiscal Glossary and Specific Budget Timeline on Wiki.


Discussion of the level to which the committee should look into departments, and if items such as salary and workload, or the cost of individual programs compared to enrollment are items for committee work or the work of individual departments.


Budget process was reviewed; VPs discuss with their departments, department managers provide needs and expenses to VPs, VPs compile their budgets and provide to A&F, and A&F presents to BOT.  The expectation is the departments create their budgets and tell their VPs what they need and decisions are made within departments at that VP level.  Faculty have commented on budgets being changed and not having recourse.  Student Development and Administration and Finance follow that process and it works well. Budget Pak training for Academic Affairs Trust Funds Custodians was completed last week and AA will be having more detailed conversations with chairs.  Recommendation is to coordinate the budget process among departments.  Communication is important so that individuals understand how their departmental budget was created from faculty & students). 


Fixed Costs can impact a budget significantly, and have; heavy snow and cold years have impacted.  Replacement items like security equipment that breaks and has to be replaced or new items that are needed have to be purchased over time (several years.  With the mandate to balance, there is no room for discretionary funds.

Funding from State has been relatively flat for several years; any increase that doesn’t keep up with inflation is essentially a decrease.  The college has to increase other funding areas.  There is a formula funding process that is used by the BHE for budgeting purposes.  The formula is reviewed by the Governor.  In FY18, the formula would have resulted in a 1% ($180K) increase but instead was level funded.  Appropriations which are not known during the budget process are an informed guess, and the state doesn’t have an understanding of university operations.   Chart showing $6M over 12 years was discussed, doesn’t take in to account collective bargaining that used to be covered at a percentage, and has not been for several years, and increased student aid.

Discussion of trends with reference to space, access to majors, over/under subscription issues (Animation and Illustration were given as examples of highly enrolled programs).  Some universities ask you to declare upon arrival but that wouldn’t work with our students. Strategic Plan Committee is in conversation with those departments and enrollment management.  The Strategic Plan, once in place, will steer budget decisions, rather than the budget informing the strategic plan.  SGA/Studio foundation is looking for feedback.  Departments do experience growing and declining trends, however the numbers don’t always tell the entire story, and expenses differ with each major.  Fibers is an example of a major that had declining enrollment and is now growing.

Lyssa Palu-ay and Kurt Steinberg will be meeting with the SGA on December 11 to answer their questions about the budget process.  It was suggested that the Committee could meet with SGA on January 24.  It was mentioned that there is some overlap on different committees and that this committee was formed specifically with no Cabinet level VPs for the purpose of advisory function to the Cabinet.

Draft notes will be circulated, members of the committee should return their edits and comments to Chair, Robert Perry and, or Co-Chairs, Kathryn Riel and Jamie Costello. 


Submitted by:

Margaret Maki