Outside auditor presents budgetary evaluation of University

Dr. Howard Bunsis presents his independent financial analysis of SFSU's budget and finances at the CFA hosted meeting at the Seven Hills Conference Center in SF State on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. Sandy Ha / staff photographer

An outside auditor released his findings today at the Nob Hill Room of the Seven Hills Conference Center, which challenged the appropriate utilization of $98 million in SF State financial reserves.

Howard Bunsis, a professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan University who has done similar analyses at CSUs Humboldt and Dominguez Hills, was appointed by the California Faculty Association SFSU chapter to evaluate campus spending. He detailed his findings that state there is no reason for cuts to faculty and students but rather costs of the administration.

“The idea that SFSU is broke is absurd. It’s an absurd notion,” Bunis said. “As we’re going to show you, the only thing that’s broke are the priorities of the administration.”

According to Bunsis, SF State currently has $78 million in restricted reserve funds and $20 million in unrestricted reserves. Cuts should be made in a particular order, but should begin with assessing reserves, he said.

Bunsis, who attained a Ph.D in accounting from the University of Chicago and is a certified public accountant, said reserves should be used first, the number of administration should be cut second, a reduction of salaries to the administration third, a reduction to the budget of the administration should be executed fourth and as a final resort students and faculty should be cut.

“Reserves should be used for short-term unexpected declines in revenue or short-term unexpected expenses,” he said. “That’s what they’re there for.”

The University accounting office, Bunsis said, has documents detailing budgetary issues, but is not allowing those affected by them to see them.

“They exist and they have them, they’re just not showing them to us,” he said. “It’s immoral to do so.”

With the average cost per member at $230,000, he said, the administration is the largest academic unit with 214 employees.  Bunsis noted that with a 20 percent reduction in administration positions, the University would save $5 million.

Bunsis also challenged the University Planning Advisory Council’s recommendation to reorganize the eight colleges to a six-plus-one structure in order to save the University $1 million.

“The plan again spends a lot of time talking about reductions in faculty by not replacing faculty,” he said. “This should be a last resort not a first resort.”

Despite pointing out the flaws in the manner funds are disbursed, Bunsis said that he did not believe the administration was being wasteful, but that they were spending money incorrectly by compromising students and faculty.

“It’s not a close call,” Bunsis said. “Reserves should be used before we lay people off or deny people the right to a college education.”