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PSU’s Finances Are in Good Shape

July 01, 2022 / PSU-AAUP

It’s Admin’s spending priorities that need adjusting

Howard Bunsis, Professor of Accounting at Eastern Michigan University (PhD, MBA, University of Chicago; JD, Fordham Law School) and a specialist in university budget analysis with decades of experience, presented his findings on PSU’s finances on Thursday, June 16th.

Bunsis demonstrated over the 90-minute meeting that PSU does not lack money; rather, the Administration's priorities are simply in the wrong place. How do we know?

  • Among its 11 peer comparators, PSU spends the MOST on Administrative salaries - not the statistic you want to be #1 on.
  • By comparison, PSU ranks near the bottom - 8th out of 11 - on spending for instructional salaries.
  • PSU has over $180 million in unrestricted reserves, and received over $28 million in purely discretionary federal relief funds in 2022.
  • State appropriation funds to PSU have been going up each year by a healthy amount, and are forecast to go higher in the 2023-25 legislative biennium.

But what about enrollment decline, which we are constantly hearing Administration reference as the underlying cause of our financial “crisis”?

It is true that enrollment has declined at PSU, as has been true during the pandemic for virtually all higher ed institutions. 

But by attacking programs for “losing student credit hours,” rather than prioritizing reinvestment in programs and student services, the Administration is making the problem worse rather than better. We have been given pandemic relief funds for exactly this purpose.

What would happen if we re-invested in student support services? What would happen if we re-invested in units that have been senselessly targeted for reduction? Instead of attacking faculty and staff, why are we not growing enrollment and supporting the health of our university educational and community programs with the unrestricted resources we have in hand?

Plain and simple, we don’t believe that PSU is broke. There’s no evidence to show that. The real problem is that the Administration’s priorities are in the wrong place.

We are a public institution. We are here to serve the public, not pile up money in the bank.

Let’s invest in Portland’s future and our students’ futures. Now.

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