Dear SDSU Community,

This year we have faced unprecedented and painful challenges. Yet together, we have forged a path to support our core mission of ensuring access to a quality education for our students, advancing transformational research, and maintaining a deep commitment to our diverse communities.

Nonetheless, today we face a new challenge. It is one that must be met with compassion and with courage, to sustain San Diego State University’s core mission and move us with even greater strength and resiliency into the future.

As shared earlier by Chancellor White, the California State University (CSU) system and our campus must address the budgetary consequences of the state budget cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Per the Governor’s Office, these budget reductions will likely continue far beyond the 2020-21 academic year and we now must consider three years of serious financial challenges.

Our campus, however, is fortunate to have carryforward and one-time reserves, which is only possible because of years of careful stewardship and budget planning. This adds to the many earlier budget-balancing actions we implemented, putting us in a better position to plan for permanent budgetary cuts. This year, I will rely heavily on one-time reserve dollars, which will serve as a short-term solution. These reserve dollars will allow us to thoughtfully move forward as we begin difficult conversations on how to best use our core university resources to meet our mission and new strategic plan.

Realistically, we must anticipate further budget-related adjustments if, for example, we do not meet expected enrollment targets, or if we continue to see greater shifts in the state budget. Our current base budget shortfall, finalized by the CSU system, is $35 million. Base-level cuts are permanent, and cannot be solved by one-time funds. Thus, depending on one-time reserves cannot be a long-term solution. It buys us time. Because of the magnitude of these cuts, each campus president in the 23-campus system, myself included, will engage in open conversations about the need for layoffs, furloughs, or other strategies to reduce our operating budget to meet our new budgetary reality. I am determined to be incremental in this process, and any reductions that will occur in the future at SDSU will be considered carefully and with transparency. I will continue to bring a level of care to all decision-making in the weeks ahead, involving the President's Budget Advisory Committee (PBAC), which includes leadership and engagement from our University Senate, through our shared governance process.

My attention and energy are focused on preserving our ability to offer a quality education to our students, to advance other elements of our core mission, and to be guided by our new strategic plan as we begin our budget reduction discussions.

I know that such an update will lead to questions. We do not have all available answers at this point. I will, however, continue my commitment to provide updates and clarity on where we stand moving forward.

In closing, I remain grateful to our faculty and staff for showing unwavering dedication to our students, our community, and our core mission. I thank our entire community for continuing to model innovation and resilience, knowing that these efforts will contribute to a stronger future. Today we may appear to be facing an insurmountable challenge, yet I am reminded of the teachings of the Kumeyaay and the words of Chair of Tribal Relations Jacob Alvarado Waipuk: “We are in a time of change and must endure because we are resilient. Let us come together as one and show courage to a new way of life that we must embrace. We are in a new world, so let us put our minds together and create a future for students, faculty, staff, and alumni at SDSU.”

Adela de la Torre, Ph.D.
San Diego State University President

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