Past Messages from the Vice President for Administration & Finance
Below, please find an archive of the messages previously sent by Vice President Josee Larochelle.
July 28, 2020
I write today to provide an update on the seriousness of SUNY Plattsburgh’s financial situation and to outline a plan to allow the college to strategically navigate these challenging and uncertain times.
The college’s core operating budget is funded by two main revenue streams: direct state support and student tuition. Direct State Support has remained flat over a number of years and is viewed as a recurring and ongoing commitment, which allows a level of stability in our budget planning. Student tuition is variable and dependent upon enrollment numbers each year.
The college is also comprised of many support functions occurring in our DORM, IFR and SUTRA funds, and these functions are not supported by direct state support. Rather, they are supported by revenues, such as residence hall fees, mandatory student fees, course fees, fee for service programs, academic overseas programs and summer session tuition. These operations have been severely impacted by the pandemic, and regrettably, these negative impacts will continue in the years ahead.
Our annual fiscal year (FY) extends from July 1 through the following June. As of today, we have received only 85% of our FY2019/20 direct state support, which ended on June 30, 2020. The college has not received any FY2020/21 direct state support and the level and timing of this support remains uncertain.
With the uncertainties surrounding FY2020/21, SUNY System Administration has directed campuses to submit a FY2020/21 budget for six months of operating expenditures for the State Operating Fund, IFR Fund and SUTRA Fund.
That said, here is how we plan to go forward:
State Operating Fund
The State Operating Fund is restricted to only six months of FY19/20 expenses/disbursements. In order to achieve this budget level departmental budgets will be impacted as follows:
- All PSR and TS excluding TS Undergraduate Students will be reduced by 50%
- Contractual and Utilities will be reduced by 50%
- TS Undergraduate Students, supplies, travel, library, and equipment will be reduced to $0 allocation.
Keep in mind that this is a six month budget. Employee salaries will be supported for the entire fiscal year. While some expenses have already been processed in accounts with no allocation for FY20/21, we will be reviewing the need to allocate budget for these expenses later in the year.
IFR & SUTRA Fund
The departmental IFR and SUTRA budgets will be reduced by 50% in all budget categories. Although the IFR and SUTRA funds are self-generating funds, SUNY has given the directive to submit reduced budgets in order to maximize flexibility of operations during this time.
The DORM Fund is not required to submit an adjusted FY20/21 budget at this time. SUNY is in the process of bonding to fund all campus debt service for the residence halls for FY20/21 and FY21/22 in order for campuses to have sufficient resources to operate their residence hall programs.
In order to provide departments with their adjusted budget for accounts, we are striving to provide reports that can be referenced until SUNY Central posts budgets in SUNY BI. This is anticipated soon.
We have already taken significant measures to reduce expenditures with the Hiring and Salary Program and spending restrictions implemented in April 2020. However, the changes to budgets outlined above will require that spending restrictions remain in place until further notice. While more details about purchasing procedures will be shared with the campus community soon, a few highlights include:
- Procurement Cards will remain restricted.
- Departments should continue to submit purchase requisitions for all purchases for
which they have a budget based on the information above.
- Divisional vice president review is no longer required on purchases under $10,000. Dean/Department budget managers may submit funded requisitions directly to Administration and Finance at [email protected] Purchases will remain limited to critical needs only and subject to additional review criteria
- Additional expenditure restrictions on State Operating Funds will be necessary
- Office supplies for department use will continue to be available through the warehouse
All FY 2020-21 purchase requisitions that have been submitted and not yet approved are currently being re-evaluated in light of this new information. We anticipate having an update on the status within the next two weeks. Your patience is appreciated.
We expect an update from NYS and SUNY in late fall on the timing and level of direct state tax support we will receive. At that time, we will reevaluate our budget levels and inform the campus of any changes. Our mission will continue to be the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, and sustaining the college’s 2020 Priorities:
- Support for the Student Experience
- Increasing Financial Stability
- Advancing Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Our students will need all the support we can provide academically, personally and financially as they navigate the academic year in extraordinarily challenging circumstances. I thank you in advance for sustaining your commitment.
June 8, 2020
As a follow-up to last week’s message, we are launching our return to work on campus plan. As a reminder, the college has developed a Social Distancing and Face Covering Policy for SUNY Plattsburgh that outlines our expectations for physical distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE). You can read the policy here.
With this in place, we have developed a COVID-19 Return to Work Plan to phase in the return of staff over many weeks in a coordinated process. This will ensure appropriate social distancing and availability of PPE, as well as the ability to modify our work spaces. While the timing decision for each department will depend on workspace accommodations and business continuity needs, we have developed a list of phased dates by department. These dates are guidelines only.
These decisions, once approved, will be communicated to you through your respective manager/supervisor.
The first step in preparing our work environments for your return to campus is an assessment of work spaces. Departments heads will receive guidance on how to assess the environment within the week. The second will be ensuring social distancing in common areas is adequately marked and posted.
The phased return to work plan will follow these steps:
- Step 1: Manager completes Social Distancing Assessment and Modification Request Form.
- Step 2: Manager sends Return to Work Employee Questionnaire to their employees.
- Step 3: Manager submits Social Distancing Assessment and Employee Questionnaires to their supervisor. It goes up the hierarchy through their respective vice president and the Operational Continuity Health and Safety Team.
- Step 4: Operational Continuity Health and Safety Team notifies vice president, supervisor and manager.
- Step 5: Manager notifies employees on date to return to work.
- Step 6: Employee watches New York State return to work video.
- Step 7: Employee returns to work.
Any questions regarding the return to work plan should be sent to the Operations Continuity Health and Safety Team at [email protected].
Our maintenance and operations staff has been hard at work preparing the campus for our workforce to return.
June 1, 2020
You have likely seen that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has cleared our region to begin Phase II of our state’s reopening. This phase includes the ability of higher education administration to return to campuses.
In anticipation of this, we developed a Social Distancing and Face Covering Policy for SUNY Plattsburgh that outlines our expectations for physical distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE). You can read the policy here.
With this in place, we are developing a plan to phase in the return of staff over many weeks in a coordinated process. This will ensure appropriate social distancing and availability of PPE. Our campus will assess expanded staffing based on our ability to accommodate social distancing and manage specific work environments as well as the necessity to access on-site resources.
These decisions, once approved, will be communicated to you through your respective manager/supervisor.
The first step in preparing our work environments for your return to campus will be an assessment of work spaces. Departments heads will be receiving guidance on how to assess the environment within the next week. The second will be ensuring social distancing in common areas is adequately marked and posted.
Our maintenance and operations staff will be working at full capacity effective today, Monday, June 1, in order to ensure our campus is adequately cleaned, sanitized and ready for the phased-in return of staff and faculty.
May 11, 2020
With finals week underway, I am writing to share a few important updates regarding campus operations.
Restoring full campus operations is dependent upon our region meeting certain criteria. Until this time, the College will continue to operate with only essential employees on campus. Previously existing Temporary Work Agreements remain in effect under the NYS telecommuting pilot program and do not need to be renewed. Supervisors are expected to continue making weekly reports of employees at alternate work locations here.
UUP and SUNY have entered a MOU to address concerns of members about COVID-19’s impact on reviews for tenure or permanent appointment. Key details include:
- Academics who are currently serving in tenure-track academic positions will receive an automatic one-year extension of their time to continuing appointment.
- Professionals who are coming up for review in the next two years can request a six-month extension of their time to permanent appointment.
We will be working to create the necessary processes and forms for academic employees who wish to opt out of the extension, along with professional employees who wish to opt in. This will be announced to the campus once finalized.
As previously communicated, summer study abroad and faculty-led trips are cancelled. All other travel through June 30th is restricted to critical operational travel only. Critical operational travel includes travel for health and safety, student recruitment, or to meet contractual or legal obligations.
Travelers must submit a travel authorization with a justification of the need and receive approval by their respective Vice President before going on any state-funded or sponsored travel. No determination has been made on travel after July 1st at this time and no travel authorizations should be submitted.
SPENDING AND HIRING
The Spending Restrictions and Hiring pause first announced on April 10 will remain in effect through June 30. This pause includes the hiring of student employees, including Federal Work-Study. Together, we have done an excellent job in reducing expenses, saving $400k in the month of April! These restrictions have not been easy, but they are necessary and will help us have the best position moving forward.
As the semester winds down, know that we will continue to provide timely updates to keep you informed. As a reminder, you can always learn more on our COVID-19 website here:
Be well and know that your good work is appreciated.
April 20, 2020
I am writing to provide additional guidance on the spending changes first announced on April 10th. Please note these procedures supersede earlier guidance and are effective immediately.
- Requisitions for new services or goods must be submitted first to the respective Dean
and Vice President for review of criticality and approval. Upon approval, the requisition
is to be forwarded to the Office of the Vice President of Administration & Finance for review and approval.
- If the requisition is less than $5,000, the Vice President for Administration & Finance is the final approval.
- If the requisition is $5,000 or more, the Vice President for Administration & Finance will obtain the President’s approval in advance of purchase.
- Requisitions for new ongoing/recurring monthly expenses should be prepared for the anticipated total amount through the end of the fiscal year and submitted to the respective Dean and Vice President for initial approval of the expense. Upon approval, the requisition should be forwarded to the Office of the Vice President of Administration & Finance for review and approval.
- Invoices for services or goods already received should be processed as follows:
- If the invoice is for goods and services under an existing contract or purchase order, invoices are to be submitted to Accounts Payable.
- If the invoice is not supported by an existing contract or purchase order, a requisition must accompany the invoice, and submitted to the Office of the Vice President for Administration and Finance for review and approval.
- Procurement, Travel, and Non-Employee Travel Card Reconciliations: Monthly reconciliations for previous Citibank credit card uses are exempt and do not require any additional approvals.
In order to ensure purchases are expedited, please include documentation supporting costs (e.g. invoice, quotes, price list, etc.) with your requisition.
More information can be found on our Administration and Finance COVID-19 website including some resources we have posted reflecting these changes:
- A revised Hiring and Spending Changes Question and Answer document
- A revised Purchase Requisition
- A new Spending Changes Approval Flowchart
As always, we will continue to keep you informed of important updates in response to this situation.
April 15, 2020
Dear Campus Community,
I am writing to share more information regarding my email last Friday on Hiring and Spending Changes. A few key takeaways include:
- We are instituting a New Hiring and Salary Program for reviewing non-teaching positions in advance of any recruitment activity.
- All recruitment and hiring are put on PAUSE through May 30th
- Only critical purchases are allowable through June 30th.
- Critical purchases must be approved in advance by your Dean, Vice President, and the
President and include those related to:
- Health or Safety
- Spring or Summer Course Delivery
- Student Enrollment Recruitment
- A new purchase requisition has been developed which includes a justification for the expenditure.
A new resource has been developed to provide guidance on the expenditure changes announced on Friday, our Hiring and Spending Questions and Answers.
As always, this and other information can be found on our A&F COVID-19 Website.
These are challenging times and the full impact of COVID-19 remains unknown. Please know that we will continue to provide updates as additional information is learned. Thank you for your patience and for all of your efforts to continue our critical mission.
April 10, 2020
Dear Campus Community,
Among the widespread effects of COVID-19 are the operations of SUNY Plattsburgh. As we promote the health, safety and security of our students, staff and faculty, we must also take steps to position the college to fulfill its core mission now and in the future.
The ultimate financial impact of COVID-19 is unknown, but the pandemic has already resulted in severe financial consequences to New York State that demand prompt action. Accordingly, we are detailing below some actions taken now to reduce state expenses.
Immediate actions (affecting all campus funding sources);
- All recruitments and hiring are put on PAUSE through May 15th. This means that no salary offers will be extended to candidates without the President’s authorization. The College has identified our two Vice President recruitments as critical to the College and they are proceeding forward.
- All non-salary related expenditures are suspended. If there is a critical expenditure that is related to the health and safety of the campus, it will need approval from your respective Vice President and the President. A requisition must be used for all expenses effective immediately. This directive includes all P-Card and T-Card expenses. As such, the dollar limits for these cards are being reduced to $1.00.
It is important to recognize the impact of the recently announced pay increase freeze on our classified employees including CSEA, PBA of New York State, NYSCOPBA, and PEF employees. The Governor’s announcement yesterday indicates that the 2% pay increase scheduled for the April 29th paycheck is on hold; longevity increases for CSEA employees scheduled for the April 15th check are being released. We have yet to receive any specifics from SUNY or the Governor’s Office regarding this freeze.
The anxiety that is created by the uncertain financial impact of COVID-19 is felt by all members of our community. The College is working towards understanding the financial impacts of COVID-19 on our budget for next year.
As more information is known to the College, updates will be provided to all faculty and staff.
March 26, 2020
"Unprecedented times", "Fluid situation", "Essential Personnel"
Each of us has heard terms such as these many times over the past few weeks as the College responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, repeated use of these terms dulls us to their impact and can't convey what we feel on a daily basis.
Students not returning to residence halls, offices empty and buildings locked, and the familiar buzz of campus activity gone silent. On a personal level, many of us are struggling with how to care for children with schools closed, loved ones who may be particularly susceptible, and how to buy the essentials we need. The words "unprecedented times" don’t do justice to the anxiety and stress that many of us feel.
These feelings are understandable, but I want to take a moment of time to share my reflections. As Cardinals, we have faced adversity and challenge before. We are resilient and I want to share a few examples of how we have responded rapidly and effectively to this public health crisis to overcome its challenge.
- Classroom instruction continues through distance learning with our nearly 5,000 students continuing to make progress towards their degrees.
- Our janitorial team has worked tirelessly to implement new measures and keep our campus clean.
- We are striving to release over 75 percent of our employees to work remotely, yest still provide the continuity of services needed to keep the college going all the while still practicing social distancing.
We have done all of these things because we have bold, resourceful employees who do not shy from overcoming a challenge, and are committed to our students and their education. We will succeed because of what you do.
As Cardinals, we have survived fires, ice storms, and floods. We will overcome COVID-19, too. This will not stop us from achieving our strong future together.
Take care of yourself and your loved ones; you have my deepest gratitude for all you do.
Oct. 17, 2019
Last week we held the Fall Administration and Finance Divisional Meetings on Oct. 9 and 10. Thank you for all of those who attended! We encourage you to fill out our meeting evaluation survey to give us feedback on the meeting overall.
If you were unable to attend, I encourage you to review the presentation. Summarized below are some highlights.
The Presidential Search is on schedule. Three names were forwarded to the Chancellor. We anticipate an appointment at the SUNY Board of Trustees Meeting on November 19th and 20th.
The College is preparing to recruit our next Provost and VP for Academic Affairs and VP for Enrollment and Student Success for the Academic Year 2020-2021.
Strategic Plan Accomplishments
Progress continues to be made on the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan. Over the three-year period, we plan to focus on 8 strategic focus areas, with 38 goals determined.
Capital and Construction Projects
The overall Plattsburgh Experience on campus continues to improve through numerous capital and construction projects. Noteworthy projects include renovations of Memorial Hall, Kent Hall, and Whiteface Hall.
Financial Stability Plan
A Financial Stability Plan update was shared. Highlights of the plan as well as the presentation slides can be found on the financial stability plan website.
I look forward to seeing you at our next Divisional Meeting in Spring 2020.
March 14, 2019
I enjoyed seeing many of you at last week’s Administration and Finance Divisional Meeting. For those who attended, I hope that you walked away with a better understanding of the ambitious work occurring across our division and looking forward to our future events.
If you were unable to attend, we shared important upcoming divisional events and initiatives, provided an update on major capital and construction projects, and shared information on the achievements from our 2018-2019 Strategic Plan. I encourage you to review the presentation to learn more.
I have also summarized highlights and resources below:
Capital and Construction Projects
We continue to improve the Plattsburgh experience through investment in capital and construction projects and the planned renovation of Memorial Hall is no exception.
Examples of 2018-2019 Strategic Plan Achievements
Morale and Teambuilding - The revival of the division-wide Summer Picnic and Retreat! Hosting division-wide meetings and the announcement of the A&F Excellence in Service Award. (Nominations due March 15, 2019)
Retention and Staff Development - A formal on-boarding process for new employees with periodic follow up.
Cost Savings and Efficiencies - Based on the ideas and contributions of our campus community, the team worked with other campus stakeholders and has currently identified $90,000 in cost savings!
Holding regular meetings is part of our strategic plan to keep you better informed about the good work that is occurring in our division. We encourage you to complete our meeting evaluation survey. No personally identifiable information will be collected and the results will be shared with the Teambuilding and Morale Team to help us improve future programs.
I hope you will join us at our next divisional meeting in Fall 2019.
See you then, Josee
Aug. 21, 2018
It has been over a year since I was given the opportunity to join the SUNY Plattsburgh community as the Vice President for Administration and Finance. This past year has been a period of growth and renewal within the Administration and Finance Division.
We have come together as a division to formulate a new strategic plan - our first in nearly 20 years as a division. We have developed a multi-year financial stability plan that charts a course to a strong financial future. We completed important capital projects to ensure that our facilities will continue to meet the evolving needs of our campus community. We have supported vital initiatives to make our campus a welcoming and inclusive community for all people.
These highlights and more are outlined in our 2017-18 Annual Report. Please take a few minutes and read about our accomplishments as a division. We have much to be proud of and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish working together with common purpose in the year to come.
Finally, it was great meeting many of you at our 2018 Summer Retreat and Picnic. I hope you enjoyed the opportunity to learn about our strategic initiatives, get to know your colleagues within the division, and have some fun at the same time. Our accomplishments are not the work of a few; they are the result of many dedicated staff within the Administration & Finance Division. Thank you for all that you do throughout the year to make the transformative learning environment at SUNY Plattsburgh possible.
June 20, 2018
It is my pleasure to share with you that effective July 1, 2018 our division will be renamed Administration & Finance, or A&F, for short. This change is part of our new strategic plan and intended to better communicate the scope of services that we provide to the campus. Please ensure that you adopt the Administration & Finance name anywhere your department currently references “Business Affairs.”
Over the last several months, members of our division have been working together to develop a strategic plan that represents who we are and what we aspire to become in the next five years. The current plan not only meets this endeavor but also sets a course for meeting our aspirational goals. We strive to become a division that is a leader in innovative business services and facilities management through a collaborative team approach.
Moving forward, four strategic directions have been identified:
- Cost Savings & Efficiencies
- Morale & Teambuilding
- Retention & Development of Current Employees
Teams have been created to work on these endeavors. In the near future, you can expect regular updates from your colleagues working on the teams responsible for work towards meeting their goals.
April 3, 2018
Over the past weeks, members of the campus community had the opportunity to attend a Financial Stability Plan Update presentation. For those present, thank you for attending. The level of engagement and inquiry was outstanding. Our plan for attaining financial stability is a collaborative effort and we are confident that our campus community has the ability and stamina to achieve the plan. If you were unable to attend the presentation, you can learn more about it here.
Highlights from the presentation include the following:
- Fall 2017 enrollment exceeded the goal by 3%, which results in increase tuition revenue.
- There was no change in the expected temporary salary reductions, however cuts in permanent salaries will extend into FY2021-22.
- Permanent Salary & Expense reductions totaled $662,000 in FY2017-18 & $1.5 million in FY2018-19.
- The structural deficit in FY2021-22 increased from $2 million to $4.2 million due to the elimination of the expected 10% reduction in scholarship offerings. We are working towards a balanced budget by FY2021-22 through cost savings & efficiency & revenue generation committees.
I also wanted to draw your attention to the New York State Budget, which was passed on March 30, 2018. The highlights as related to the State University of New York are as follows:
- No Increase in state funding Funding for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is kept at the current FY2017-18 level with no reductions
- $18 million for Performance Improvement Plan is kept at the current FY2017-18 level
- $4 million for Open Educational Resources (OER) at SUNY is included in the new budget
As a public institution, our financial position continues to depend heavily upon the budget-making process in Albany. While it is disappointing that we did not see an increase in state funding, it is at least reassuring that the Governor and Legislature funded SUNY at a level consistent with the past year. As we look to future years, we will continue our efforts to advocate for SUNY while also identifying and implementing cost savings and revenue generation ideas to achieve a secure financial future for the College. As always, I thank you for your efforts on behalf of our campus.
Feb. 26, 2018
To Employees of the Business Affairs Division:
These are difficult days for our nation and our College. The recent school shooting at Parkland, Florida and racist social media message that circulated on our campus remind us that we have a long way to go to achieve a society where all feel welcome and safe.
If you did not attend one of the student forums, know that the pain and fear experienced by our students is very real. Hearing their stories reminds me how difficult it is to understand what others face without walking a mile in their shoes and the long road ahead of us as a community.
I can assure you that the College’s Leadership recognizes this and the action plan developed is a significant step forward and will make a difference. You will hear more about the steps we are taking in the weeks to come.
While the focus of our efforts in the Business Affairs Division is on providing administrative, operational, and financial services, we must never forget that our first and foremost concern must be the students attending this institution. We must recognize that our students are struggling and our conduct sends a message to them.
As your vice president, it is imperative to me that we act in ways that show our collective support to the students of this institution. Each of us can make a difference and here are some steps that you can take:
- Recognize that these feelings are genuine and deeply felt and they do not go away even if the headlines do. Our students are struggling and I continue to echo Provost Morgan's request that you be compassionate and understanding in these uncertain times.
- Diversity Week is this week – show up to an event to demonstrate your support for our campus efforts. (Please coordinate your attendance with you supervisor first).
- The recent events on campus are worthy of healthy, respectful discussion and it is in our best interest to support and facilitate such discussion where we can. It is important to remember, however, that opinions will vary and certain topics within this discussion may be divisive and/or hurtful to portions of our campus population (students, employees and/or guests). As such, please be mindful and respectful of your surrounding audience, and limit discussion to those who are interested in participating. If conversations must occur in open spaces, please ensure that they are not intruding on those who may be within earshot or apt to pass through the conversational space.
- You are encouraged to contact your departmental leadership or Human Resource Services/EAP if there is an interest in having someone facilitate an organized conversation around the recent events and our reactions to them.
- If you see an incident of discrimination or harassment, please report them to the Affirmative Action or Title IX Offices.
Lastly, if you need to talk about these events, know that my door is open. Please make an appointment by calling Amanda Suriel at (518) 564-5062. These are challenging times but I am confident that through our collective efforts we can achieve a community where all people feel welcomed and supported.
Oct. 2, 2017
Over the past few weeks, I have enjoyed meeting many of you as we have gathered together to discuss our plans for ensuring a strong future for SUNY Plattsburgh.
As I mentioned in our community gatherings, a Budget Plan Website has been created that provides detailed information about our budget plan. On it, you can find a copy of the financial stability plan presentation, learn about the guiding principles for our budget plan, and submit your budget ideas for cost savings to the campus.
As a reminder our "Coffee with Clark" program kicks off this week. Please come join Clark Foster, Associate VP for Administration and Finance, have a cup of coffee and share your ideas for cost savings and revenue opportunities. A list of dates and times can be found on our Share your budget ideas. All ideas are welcome and will be reviewed!
While I am newcomer to SUNY Plattsburgh, one thing that has become readily apparent to me in these few short months is the talent of the individuals in our community and the shared commitment to our College's success. I look forward to collaborating with you as we strive to ensure that the College's future remains strong.
July 24, 2017
Dear Business Affairs Team:
I want to say "Thank You" for the warm welcome I have received since arriving on campus. It has been an exciting time for me as I step into my new role, and one of the best parts has been getting to meet all of you in the Business Affairs team. If I have not yet had the chance to personally say "Hi" to you, please know that it's a priority for me to go around and meet everyone in Business Affairs this summer.
In terms of other priorities, those are still developing as I work with the President's leadership team. It is my plan to share information and communicate with the division and the wider campus community regularly, and I look forward to starting that soon.
I hope you all are enjoying your summer. I hear that the wet weather we are having has been "unusual" but it has not stopped me! I have hiked beautiful Point Au Roche and breathtaking Rattlesnake Mountain, and been kayaking through Ausable Marsh and down the Saranac River. The North Country is a truly extraordinary place and I'm thrilled to be here.
I look forward to working with all of you.