Wright State was warned a year ago that more cuts were needed

Published: Sunday, April 15, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Students on campus at Wright State University.
Students on campus at Wright State University.

Wright State University’s interim president saw the school’s recently-announced $10-million problem coming last June.

Last summer Curtis McCray, in the midst of serving a brief three-month stint as interim leader of the school, announced that Wright State’s financial problems were “a little deeper” than the $30.8 million trustees cut out of the school’s 2017 budget. Instead, McCray recommended trustees slash $40 million from Wright State’s budget.

A year later, the current university administration has found that McCray’s predictions have come true.

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Wright State president Cheryl Schrader this week asked university departments to slash 66 percent of their remaining budgets for fiscal year 2018 - which ends June 30 - in a last-ditch effort to keep the school off of state fiscal watch. Around $6 million of the $10 million WSU is trying to cut within the next 11 weeks would be put in the college’s reserve fund. But chief business officer Walt Branson said that at this point such efforts are unlikely to raise enough money for the school’s reserves in time.

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“I’m not surprised. It was a guess on my part but I was fairly positive,” McCray said when contacted by phone Thursday. “(Wright State is) a good place and it ought to do better…I’ve never seen an institution go from a reserve of over $100 million to nothing.”

Wright State’s depleted reserves are one of the main reasons the university could land on fiscal watch.

WSU’s total reserves plummeted from $162 million in 2012 to a projected $31 million in 2017, which amounts to a $131 million decline over five years, according to the school’s budget.

The state measures every public college’s fiscal health with something called a “Senate Bill 6 score,” an annual rating of 0 to 5. Half the score is based on the school’s reserve fund, essentially how much cash the school has in the bank. The other two factors include a viability score which calculates the university’s ability to service its debts and an income ratio which measures the school’s change in net assets, according to the FY 2018 WSU budget.

Any school that falls below a 1.75 two years in a row is put on notice. Wright State projected its score last year was a .8, meaning one more year below a 1.75 would put the school on fiscal watch. As recently as January, administrators were projecting a score of 2.2 for the current fiscal year.

Under fiscal watch status, WSU trustees and administration will have to adopt a financial recovery plan with an eye toward ending the status of fiscal watch within three years, according to state law. They would be required to produce forecasts and plans for getting the school’s finances back on track, and if the administration did not do this the chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education could appoint someone to make those decisions for the university.

By June 30, Wright State will have a projection of whether the school will enter fiscal watch. But, the state likely wouldn’t decide whether to place the school under added scrutiny until the end of 2018, said David Cummnis, finance director of the Ohio department of Higher Education.

“I think the next three months are going to be the tightest belt tightening,” said Sean Fitzpatrick, chairman of the board’s finance committee. “If we miss fiscal watch by one dollar then shame on us.”

Enrollment and other issues

Wright State, said Cummins, is “right on the border” of entering fiscal watch. A big reason for that is the university’s enrollment.

Wright State’s enrollment this year was projected to hit its lowest point in a decade. Tuition is the school’s biggest source of revenue so fewer students translates to less money.

A steep decline in international students over the last two years resulted in a decline of $15 million in net tuition revenue, Wright State estimates.

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Enrollment issues also arose last fall when the mix of in-state versus out-of-state students did not come in as expected. The university had more in-state students enroll than expected and fewer out-of-state students, board chairman Doug Fecher said last fall.

Non-Ohio residents pay more for tuition so the issue resulted in tuition coming in $4.7 million under projections. Ohio residents will pay $10,814 and out-of-state student pay $21,032, according to Wright State.

Unbudgeted scholarship and fellowship expenses cost the school around $3.5 million last fall. More recently health insurance claims have been a strain on Wright State’s budget.

Around $6 million in unexpected health care costs occurred this spring for employees or their families who are covered by the university’s health care plan. Claims have increased or decreased by as much as $500,000 in a single week, according to the university. Both Branson and Fitzpatrick have said the large claims may be from employees or their family members who had major medical problems this year or are about to retire or leave the university.

“The medical insurance was a big wild card that got thrown in,” Branson said in February.

‘Moving target’

The budget problems have forced trustees to look at operational details that boards of trustees typically leave to administrations to decide.

Trustees are regularly having discussions about everything from what jobs should be filled and to how high Wright State’s catering budget should be.

“They’re in an interesting situation…It’s really forcing them to get to the level of detail to see where they’re at,” Cummins said. “This one’s a little unique because they’re shooting at a moving target. That’s the challenge for them.”

Along with Fecher and Fitzgerald, Wright State’s trustees are Anuj Goyal, Grace Ramos, Michael Bridges, Bill Montgomery, Stephanie Green, C.D. Moore, Bruce Langos and two non-voting student members.

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On Wednesday, trustees learned that some austerity measures McCray put in place — when he was there from March to June last year — were not kept in place after he left, including paid travel. After trustees complained on Wednesday, Schrader emailed the campus on Thursday to re-institute several austerity measures.

She again banned overnight travel unless it is paid for by a third party, prohibited catering again and lowered limits on purchasing cards for university employees to $250 per purchase and $500 per month.

“We understand that this requires great sacrifice and presents challenges for your daily work, but we must come together in the short term to preserve Wright State University’s exceptional educational programs and community leadership for generations to come,” Schrader said in the email.

‘Some of them…are a joke’

At times the university has left positions vacant or used temporary hiring freezes to save money.

Over the last two years, Wright State administrators and trustees have said they would not fill positions unless they were critical to the school’s operation and mission. They have also said that positions shouldn’t be filled if they are not pertinent to the safety and well being of students.

During a board meeting this week, trustees questioned jobs currently posted on the university’s website and trustee Bruce Langos said that “some of them, as you go down the list, are a joke.”

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Listed on the school’s website are research-related jobs and dozens of faculty positions including adjunct positions, assistant professors and instructor jobs. There is also a position for an events and social media coordinator for Wright State Research Institute, an assistant women’s volleyball coach, an assistant general counsel job and a men’s basketball administrative assistant, among others.

Wright State’s hiring process follows a few different tracks, said spokesman Bob Mihalek.

Grant-funded positions are still being filled since compensation for those jobs does not come out of the school’s budget. Approval to post university-funded jobs comes when a position meets the conditions for “emergency hiring” or “strategic hiring,” which include security and compliance needs, Mihalek said.

The posting for an administrative assistant for basketball was approved to be posted last November, but “upon further review, athletics was asked to delay hiring and re-evaluate options,” Mihalek said via email.

In Wednesday’s meeting Schrader said that her administration is “focused on accountability” and on “doing everything we can to reduce any expenditures that are not critical.”

The next budget

Wright State administrators have already started planning for next year.

This week they released details of an early fiscal year 2019 budget and the plan didn’t bode well for the university.

Another enrollment decline could lead to around a $12 million decline in tuition revenue, far more than the $3.5 million administrators projected in January.

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With more enrollment misfortune on the horizon, Wright State will have to spend even less money next year.

Overall, the university is planning more than $23 million in spending reductions during the next fiscal year, the preliminary budget shows. In June trustees will get more details on the school’s next budget, something Schrader and her team are charged with planning.

McCray said he still does some consulting work for colleges but “nothing like what I did as interim president.” He’s not sure what Wright State’s leaders will do to finish what he started but he’s sure one thing is in the school’s future.

“I think they’ll probably do the only things there are to do: Cuts.”

WSU total reserves

2012: $162 million

2013: $140 million

2014: $135 million

2015: $109 million

2016: $64 million

2017: $31 million*

*Projection from FY 2018 budget.

WSU budget crisis timeline

July 2016: WSU withdraws from presidential debate, citing mounting costs.

October 2016: WSU eliminates 23 positions.

March 2017: WSU president resigns, citing budget concerns.

March 2017: Interim WSU president says programs and sports teams could be cut.

June 2017: WSU trustees approve $30.8 million in cuts, decides to keep swimming team for another year.

July: 2017: Cheryl Schrader takes over as president.

October 2017: WSU announces it will cut swimming and diving teams.

January 2018: WSU administrators say they may avoid state fiscal watch.

March 2018: WSU asks departments to slash remaining budgets by combined total of $10 million.

April 2018: WSU trustee says school is “on a trajectory” toward fiscal watch.

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Prince Louis christened: Prince George, Princess Charlotte join royal family at ceremony

Published: Monday, July 09, 2018 @ 7:58 AM
Updated: Monday, July 09, 2018 @ 1:40 PM

Kate, Duchess of Cambridge carries Prince Louis as they arrive for his christening service at the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace, London, Monday, July 9, 2018. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool Photo via AP)
Dominic Lipinski/AP
Kate, Duchess of Cambridge carries Prince Louis as they arrive for his christening service at the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace, London, Monday, July 9, 2018. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool Photo via AP)(Dominic Lipinski/AP)

The world got its latest, long-awaited glimpse of the newest member of the House of Windsor as Prince Louis was christened Monday, 11 weeks after his birth.

The service was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s two other children. It was the first time all five members of the young royal family have been seen together, the BBC reported

Also in attendance were Prince William’s father and his wife, Prince Charles and Camilla.

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, were at the ceremony along with Kate’s sister Pippa; her husband, James Matthews; and their brother, James Middleton.

Prince Louis was christened at Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace, baptized by the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, Metro reported.

But two people were missing from the ceremony. Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh decided not to attend, according to Metro.

The queen has an extensive schedule this week. She travels back to Windsor Palace from Norfolk Monday, then will have a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the creation of the Royal Air Force Tuesday and has a meeting with President Donald Trump Friday, Metro reported.

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Hours before the ceremony, Kensington Palace announced whom the couple named as Prince Louis’ godparents.


He now has three godfathers and three godmothers.

Harry Aubrey-Gletcher went to Eton with Prince William, The Telegraph reported. Nicholas Van Cutsem is a family friend. His daughter was a bridesmaid at their wedding, The Telegraph reported. The final godfather is Guy Pelly, who founded nightclubs and was friends with both William and Prince Harry during their single years, ITV reported.

As for the godmothers, the family named Lady Laura Meade, who is married to James Meade, a friend of Prince William and who is Princess Charlotte’s godfather; Hannah Gillingham, a friend of the Duchess; and Lucy Middleton, Duchess Katherine’s cousin, The Telegraph reported.

Prince Louis wore the same christening gown used for George and Charlotte, which is a copy of the lace and satin dress made for Queen Victoria’s daughter in 1841, Daily Mail reported.

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CVS apologizes after white manager called police on black woman using coupon

Published: Sunday, July 15, 2018 @ 8:51 PM

File photo. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

CVS has apologized to a black woman and is investigating an incident in which a white manager called police on her after she tried to use a coupon at a Chicago store on Friday.

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Camilla Hudson, 53, who said her Facebook post detailing the incident was removed for unspecified reasons by the social media site, also shared video on Twitter of her interaction with the CVS manager who claimed she had forged a coupon.

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Hudson said she shared her experience after other recent stories where police were called by white people because of minor or perceived infractions by black people.

“I was not yelling, I did not raise my voice, I did not use profanity, I did not call anyone outside of their name -- other than not accepting, basically, ‘Screw you,’ that was my offense, if you will,” Hudson told Block Club Chicago. “As a woman, as a black woman, as a native Chicagoan, I’m just tired of it. I’m tired of it.”

Police were called to the store for an assault in progress, according to Block Club Chicago. Hudson was told by police she had to leave or else it would be considered trespassing.

“They were not awful,” Hudson told Block Club Chicago regarding the interaction with police. “I explained to them what had happened and how it had happened, and they said, ‘When we get these calls we do have to respond … (but) you’re going to have to leave,’ and I said, ‘Why do I have to leave? I’m a customer here.’”

CVS reached out to Hudson Saturday as her post went viral.

“Our Region Director in Chicago contacted Ms. Hudson as soon as we were made aware of this incident,” CVS said in a statement, according to Block Club Chicago. “CVS has begun an investigation and we will take any corrective action that is warranted to prevent it from happening again. CVS Pharmacy does not tolerate any practices that discriminate against any customer and we are committed to maintaining a welcoming and diverse environment in our stores.”

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Man succeeds in campaign to bring ‘Trump baby balloon’ to U.S.

Published: Sunday, July 15, 2018 @ 10:48 PM

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JULY 14:  Workers tend to The Baby Trump Balloon while the U.S. President is visiting Trump Turnberry Luxury Collection Resort in Scotland as people gather to protest during his visit to the United Kingdom on July 14, 2018 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The President of the United States and First Lady, Melania Trump on their first official visit to the UK after yesterday's meetings with the Prime Minister and the Queen is in Scotland for private weekend stay at his Turnberry.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JULY 14: Workers tend to The Baby Trump Balloon while the U.S. President is visiting Trump Turnberry Luxury Collection Resort in Scotland as people gather to protest during his visit to the United Kingdom on July 14, 2018 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The President of the United States and First Lady, Melania Trump on their first official visit to the UK after yesterday's meetings with the Prime Minister and the Queen is in Scotland for private weekend stay at his Turnberry. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)(Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A man who started a crowd source funding account to bring a balloon ridiculing President Donald Trump to the United States hopes to fly it near the president’s New Jersey golf club. 

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The “Fund To Bring Baby Trump To America” raised more than $5,800 as of Sunday evening, more than its $4,500 goal, since it was started Friday by Didier Jimenez-Castro, who wants to fly it at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster

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“This is about doing some real activism,” Jimenez-Castro, who works at a homeless shelter, told WPHT. “We want to go on a tour. We will definitely bring (the balloon) to Central Park.”

Jimenez-Castro worked with the People’s Motorcade, a group that protests out front of Trump’s New Jersey golf club, to create the GoFundMe, after he found out about the anti-Trump effigy and wanted to bring it across the Atlantic. 

He expects to receive the 20-foot tall balloon, that features Trump as an angry, cell-phone carrying caricature, which has flown in London and Scotland during the president’s visit to the United Kingdom, in mid-August.

"The baby Trump is not just a piece of humor, but it is also a symbol of the administration,” Jimenez-Castro told The Star-Ledger. “It's symbolic of the children that are in cages, it's a symbol of racism, and we know that he hates to be ridiculed." 

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Duke University to stop requiring SAT, ACT writing scores

Published: Sunday, July 15, 2018 @ 11:13 PM

Duke University. File photo.  (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
Sara Davis/Getty Images
Duke University. File photo. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)(Sara Davis/Getty Images)

Duke University will no longer require students to submit some testing scores when they apply for admission. 

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It will soon be optional for applicants to submit SAT essay scores or ACT writing scores. 

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Officials said this change is to ensure every student has an opportunity to be fully considered during the application process. 

The change will begin with next year's incoming undergraduate class. 

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