Fresno State gets $5.9m share of stimulus funds

September 16, 2010 

A final round of $106 million in federal stimulus cash will ease budget cuts and allow Fresno State and its sister campuses to admit some students for the next term, California State University officials said Thursday.

Fresno State's share is $5.9 million. William Covino, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said officials are developing a plan to use the money.

"The additional funding will allow us to begin admitting students for the spring semester, add course sections in high-demand areas and provide support services that are essential for our students' success and progress," he said.

Pedro Ramirez, president of the Associated Students, said anything that increases classes and enrollment is positive for students.

Michael Caldwell, chairman of the faculty Academic Senate, said the reduction of services on campus has been disheartening.

"It is important for us to embrace every opportunity to provide increased access and opportunity for our students," he said.

Across the 23-campus system, officials expect to admit up to 10,000 new students and restore up to 3,000 course sections for the upcoming term.

The money also should ease cuts to services such as student advising, learning centers and libraries.

The cash -- part of a final round of State Fiscal Stabilization Fund dollars drawn from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- will be used for payroll, CSU officials said. That frees up state and student fee revenue for new admissions and other services.

In a statement, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said he appreciated that state officials helped secure the money. But it is a one-time infusion, and the state must "continue to uphold its commitment to higher education and restore state funding as currently outlined in the budget," he said.

CSU has curbed enrollment over the past few years to deal with $625 million in state budget cuts. This year, the governor's proposed budget would restore $305 million to the 433,000-student system and provide an additional $60.6 million for enrollment growth.

However, decision-makers haven't yet agreed on how to balance the overdue state budget. CSU so far has received 41,000 applications for the spring, but officials say any admissions beyond those tied to stimulus money depend on the governor's proposal.

Bernie Vinovrski, associate vice president for enrollment services, said Fresno State so far has about 2,000 applications. The deadline is Sept. 27.

The university has cut enrollment as part of a budget squeeze that also prompted dozens of layoffs this year.

Covino said it is unlikely the new money will restore those jobs. The campus needs permanent funding -- rather than one-time money -- to do that, he said.

The reporter can be reached at cfontana@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6312.

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