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Cal State’s Chief Rallies Campus Over Budget Crunch : Education: The shortfall has grown to $16 million, he tells faculty and staff, but he calls on all those at CSUF to work together to provide the best schooling possible.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cal State Fullerton President Milton A. Gordon told faculty and staff Thursday what most of them already knew: that the worst-case scenario budget that was developed earlier this year has gotten worse.

What was projected to be a $14-million shortfall in the university’s $126-million budget for the 1991-92 academic year beginning Tuesday now has grown to $16 million and could climb higher still, Gordon told more than 500 faculty and staff at his annual convocation address in the campus Little Theatre.

But the somber president--who took the helm of the 25,000-student campus last year under the gloomy cloud of a $5-million shortfall--urged them to remain optimistic and to work together to “carry this torch of excellence.”

The 56-year-old Gordon called upon faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, support groups and even students to “work together as one body with the single goal: To provide the best education for our students and the communities which we serve.”

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So far, the budget ax has eliminated 5%, or about 200, of the regular fall courses. Originally, the university had expected to trim 400 classes but tapped $844,000 from its equipment and supply budget to restore some of them. Even so, numerous students have gotten only a few of the courses they need at a time when their fees have risen 20%.

Budget cuts also will mean a freeze on filling 135 vacant faculty positions, and layoffs of an estimated 125 full-time and part-time contract lecturers, as well as other part-time clerical, nursing and custodial staff. The campus library will close earlier on weekdays and will not open at all on Sundays for the first time in recent memory, campus officials said.

With less money to pay part-time lecturers, most faculty are carrying heavier teaching loads in addition to their research and service on myriad university task forces and committees, according to Academic Senate Chairman Stewart Long.

Gordon acknowledged the pain caused by the cuts and also warned that there is no relief in sight from what is now the sixth consecutive year of budget cuts at the Fullerton campus.

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“The magnitude of this year’s reductions is coupled with the fact that the financial forecasts seem to indicate that we are going to have several lean years ahead,” the president said, adding that this will mean becoming even more resourceful with the funds available.

“Nevertheless, I remain enthusiastic about our accomplishments over the past year and about the year ahead because we, as a university, have a strong character and many assets,” Gordon told his audience.

“These assets include faculty who embody the very meaning of the (term) teacher/scholar . This faculty, with the support of dedicated staff members, have been able in 32 short years to create a campus with a strong academic reputation for excellence. It is now our responsibility during our years of stewardship to carry this torch of educational excellence into a bright future.”

During Gordon’s 45-minute address, he had special praise for a host of faculty members who won for the university $5.6 million in research grants and contracts last year. And in citing his priorities for the year ahead, he placed the raising of private dollars to augment university programs at the top of the list. (A recent Academic Senate study ranked Fullerton eighth among the 20-campus California State University system for private fund raising between 1985 and 1990.)

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“My overall goal during the decade ahead is to place Cal State Fullerton at or near the top of the California State University system in generating private funds,” Gordon asserted. “To reach this goal, we must at least double our current fund-raising results. . . . We will call on the community and our corporate friends to help us maintain the excellence that we are so proud to extol.”

Leading that charge, he said, will be the campus vice president for development, Harry Gianneschi, who arrived this summer from Metropolitan State College in Denver.

In the meantime, Gordon assured faculty and others that Cal State Fullerton will survive.

“This is not the first crisis we have faced and this is not the first challenge we have overcome,” he said.

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