A Message from President Aceves

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to report several positive developments from our Board of Trustees meeting last week on campus as we work diligently to build a more sustainable budget plan.

The Board met and reaffirmed the three-year financial bridge that was put in place a year ago, allowing us to invest in compensation increases and providing us with time to continue aligning overall expenses with revenues. The Board-approved budget includes a $3M compensation and benefits pool to pay the second installment of the compensation study. Salary adjustments will be made on September 29th, after the September Board meeting and include a retroactive payment to the first full pay period in the current fiscal year (generally speaking, May for staff and August for faculty). This fulfills a pledge made last year to implement the market rate study to improve much-deserved compensation levels.

Our operating budget identifies new revenues and spending reductions, so we will meet our Board's mandate to limit spending to $10 million beyond this year's projected revenue. Some of the strategies included in this year’s operating budget are a greater use of restricted and designated funds, increasing student housing occupancy rates through an aggressive outreach of all new and existing students, a holistic review and in some cases closing existing vacant positions, and targeted initiatives that help us eliminate areas that are not generating sufficient revenue or are not cost effective. Senior Leaders will work with their teams, colleagues, and others to complete this work. This effort will include issuing faculty contracts.

While significant work has been done to leverage our institutional wealth while we stabilize operations, student enrollment is at the heart of this effort. New students and student retention are critical elements to a thriving campus community. While we have experienced enrollment declines in various programs, we are beginning to see early signs of enrollment stabilization, especially regarding new students. Summer new student enrollment is 17% above goal and fall deposits for freshmen and transfer students are at 553 on a goal of 550. This represents 81 more students than fall 2022 new student enrollment and does not account for the impact of the June 24th, Super Saturday admissions event scheduled on campus.

New students bring fresh perspectives, ideas, and energy to the academic and campus community. They contribute to a diverse and vibrant student body, fostering a rich learning environment that benefits us all. At the same time, student retention is critical for our overall success. As we look across our academic portfolio, we see opportunities for improvement. High retention rates reflect meeting student needs and expectations.

As I have said before, change, especially under challenging times, can either bring people together in solidarity or drive them apart. We continue to survive, and with a disciplined approach to growing revenue and controlling spending, we will thrive thanks to our community's resilience and a common desire to serve our students, the institution, our community, and each other. We must act purposefully to maintain and strengthen a relational culture at every level through structures that support employees and encourage conversation and collaboration.

I want to be honest and transparent by sharing that I recognize that some changes will not be easy. And while challenges lie ahead, please know that I am honored to be your companion as we embark on this hope-filled journey.



Salvador D. Aceves, Ed.D.