Staff Council and DePaul president discuss budget, moving ahead
Staff Council hosted its annual Town Hall meeting with President A. Gabriel Esteban, Ph.D., May 2, in the Loop Campus DePaul Center. Dr. Esteban addressed the coming year, budget changes and questions from the DePaul community. Dr. Esteban began the meeting, announcing that the summer hours program will be continued this year with plans to form it into an official policy. He also addressed serious questions from staff. Emphasis was placed on the importance of DePaul employees remaining good stewards of university resources and on continued benchmarking.
Several weeks prior to the meeting, Staff Council gathered questions from the DePaul community and provided them to the president. The most pressing concerns related to next year's budget cuts. The budget does not include cuts to benefits or faculty and includes a merit pool of 2.7 percent for full- and part-time faculty and staff (increased from 2.5 percent in previous years).
Dr. Esteban thanked staff for the important role they play in the life of the university and the ways they contribute to our students' success. He recognized that change, especially change that affects our colleagues and friends, is very difficult in the life of any organization. He noted that final determinations regarding reorganizations and reductions will occur in the coming weeks. An official announcement to those affected will be made in the beginning of June. He acknowledged that we will need to work together as a community through this difficult period. Total numbers were not given, but long-term planning will play a key factor in decision-making.
As previously reported, next year's budget calls for a shift to a centralized technology purchasing model to reduce printer and computer acquisition and maintenance costs. It has become clear that the university cannot continue to operate in the same way it has, Dr. Esteban explained, and we need to remain competitive not just with private universities but increasingly with public universities that have lower tuition rates.
The president is focused on finding ways to invest in our students and highly respected, successful programs, while taking a critical look at where we do not compete as well with nearby schools. Healthcare education is also a key component to remaining competitive and a focus in the upcoming strategic plan. The College of Computing and Digital Media, The Theatre School and School of Music remain nationally recognized, for example. The university also has an outstanding number of Fulbright Scholars.
Perspective is key, noted Dr. Esteban, as well as remaining committed to our mission, values, diversity and inclusion. Deciding when and where to make cuts can be the most difficult aspect of a president's job, but he stated that crises faced by students can have a much deeper and longer-lasting negative impact. Furthermore, Dr. Esteban added that DePaul's potential to adapt quickly and implement new programs and ideas is a key strength. He cited CDM's recent partnership with The Second City to produce a comedy filmmaking program, an initiative that went from concept to implementation in less than six months.
The Town Hall meeting provided a valuable forum where Esteban and staff could speak directly to one another. Although not all news shared was good news, hearing directly from DePaul's president in an uncertain time was important and informative.
Staff Council is committed to representing the university's numerous staff members. As such, in the past year we have:
Participated in the Development of the Strategic Plan
- Attended and participated in all strategic planning town hall sessions
- Reviewed a draft of the University Strategic Plan and provided feedback
- Welcomed Jay Braatz, vice president of planning and presidential administration, to speak at our September and February General Body meetings
- Consensual Relationships Policy
- FMLA; Parental Leave; Sick, Short-Term and Long-Term Disability Policies
- Misconduct Policy
Staffed University Committees
- Strategic Planning Task Force and Planning Teams
- Speech and Expression Advisory Committee
- Investment and Plan Administrative Committee
- Staff Quality Service Committee
- University Board
- University Benefits Compensation Committee
- Hosted annual budget forum with Executive Vice President Jeff Bethke
- Hosted annual town hall meeting with Dr. Esteban
- Hosted two meet and greet events
Staff Council wishes you a pleasant end to the spring quarter and, come what may, we are here to support you and bring your voice to the table. Visit our website or find out whom to contact with questions you may have.