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Bronco Budget 101 (recording)

Doug Bullock, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences presented “Bronco Budget 101” on Tuesday, March 1, 2022, to explain Bronco Budget: what it is, how it works, how it impacts the College of Arts and Sciences and what it means for departments within the college. For questions about Bronco Budget for the College of Arts and Sciences, please contact Doug at

Download the Bronco Budget 101 Powerpoint slidedeck.

Video Transcript

>> TITLE: Boise State University, College of Arts and Sciences, Bronco Budget 101, Recorded on March 1, 2022

>> Doug Bullock: Well, technically it still all fits on one screen. I don’t know if that will stay true throughout the meeting. It certainly won’t stay true for me once I share screen. Once I share screen, I will lose track of almost all of the faces.

So that’s the first thing I’d like everybody to know—that I will not be able to manage the space in the sense of watching for hands or questions or things like that.

Fortunately, I have Makenzie for that. Makenzie will be watching for hands and if hands are piling up she will call my attention to it.

By the way, if that doesn’t happen, will also be okay, because this is structured with some natural breaks at sort of the one third, and two thirds parts and we’ll just stop for some questions or discussion anyway.

Same thing with the chat. Chat is open to everybody. Feel free to type questions or thoughts or comments into the chat.

But I won’t be able to monitor it. Makenzie will be doing that for me and she’ll interrupt me, if she charges that an interruption is necessary. And, if not we’ll still have breaks that you know one third, and two thirds or get over to the chat and see what I see.

I am going to ask Makenzie to start with a chat just so you can see her name in chat. I think she’s pretty easy to find on the screen but, just in case Makenzie, if you’ll toss something into the chat just by way of introduction.

And that is the introduction of Makenzie Phillips to the group on the screen. I’ll introduce myself, I’m Doug Bullock, I’m an associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and I was not going to do any other introductions—

I’m sorry to everybody else, whose faces and names are on the screen.

It’s just a little more time than I want to spend.

So that’s just a little bit of structural formality.

Other structural formalities, this is being recorded, and I believe the recording will be made available on the College website at some point.

Jeff Oliver handles those things, he’s also on the screen. And the slide deck will be made available on the college website for anybody to look at later again. Jeff will make sure that that happens.

I don’t know how it happens, or where to look for it, but Jeff will help you out if you need to find out where.

So, I’m towards the end of the formalities now, but one more. I mentioned slide deck…yeah sorry, I know that this got advertised on places like the CTI website as a workshop, but I think that’s putting too fine a point on it in terms of pedagogy. Frankly it’s a slide deck and I’m going to talk.

Sorry for the experts in teaching and pedagogy on the screen for me displaying this completely a non-interactive or non-active learning environment, but

this is kind of what I’ve got ready to go here on a Tuesday via Zoom, so the slide deck can be talking and maybe Makenzie watching for hands and questions in the chat.

That said, probably, we should get started, I should share screen and get a slide deck in view.

Let’s see here’s a slide deck. So this causes my little window of faces to turn into a vertical bar. I slide it all the way to the left, so it covers up the useless part of the PowerPoint stuff.

And by the way, it’s going to look like this. I am not going to turn the PowerPoint into the slide show version, because that messes up all of my zoom all the time.

It’s going to be looking like this with the sidebar, it’s a good place to put the pictures of people’s faces, if you want to slide it over there.

And that’s what I’ve done. I hope, what you can see is a big, you know, rectangular slide with a tiny amount of text that says “Bronco Budget 101: Part I. Bronco Budget is not revenue.”

And I’m going to jump in and cycle through some slides and talk a little bit at you. So Bronco Budget is not revenue, why not?

Well, to start answering that question I’m going to go back to what budgeting was like before there was Bronco Budget and really what budgeting is mostly still like pretty much everywhere at Boise state.

Boise State uses a thing called, actually, before I say that I should also say some vocabulary. I’m sorry, I’m going to talk fiscal years. I can’t get my head to do other things.

And I abbreviate them with FY but if you’re not used to fiscal years they’re just academic years and the number 18 is the spring term of the associated academic year. So what I’m talking about here on this first slide is way back to academic 17-18.

Way back in academic 17-18 this was in fact the college’s budget, $41 million and change.

And the only reason to show you a picture of the FY18 College of Arts and Sciences budget is to point out that the basic budget principle that still governs everything around here is incremental budgeting. By incremental budgeting what that means is that a year later, your budget is pretty much last year’s budget, plus a few increments.

So this is what happened when we rolled over from FY18 to FY19. It was a perfectly ordinary incremental budgeting year. You start with your FY18 budget and you make some small changes.

Most of what you’re actually driven by by salary increases or fringe changes, although there’s a handful of other things that can change to your permanent budget incrementally from year to year.

That’s a perfectly ordinary budget year. Last year, plus a bit. Well you hope it’s plus a bit, some years it’s minus a bit. Increments can go both directions, but in this particular year FY18 to 19 we were plus a bit—mostly CEC.

So that’s normal budgeting. Increment from last year’s budget by a little bit.

So along comes Bronco Budget. So when Bronco Budget came to us here’s what it added to the mix. First of all, it added a principle that, it takes two years of data for there to be a third year of actual impact in Bronco Budget.

So the first time there was actually anything going on in Bronco Budget we took a bunch of FY18 data involving essentially enrollment—student credit hours, how many majors, how many graduates.

The FY18 data established some FY19 targets which, in turn, could have an impact incrementally on the FY20 budget. But this three year kind of cycle 18 data, 19 data, FY20 impact.

They should kind of have that three year cycle in mind as you think about how Bronco Budget behaves and how it affects the College of Arts and Science.

So I mentioned that FY18 determines an FY19 target.

In some sense that’s all it does, but it’s even less than that. So here’s what all that FY18 data did. I’m going to scroll back to…

This FY18 data had about a little under 200,000 student credit hours, a little under 5,000 majors and a bit over 1,000 graduates.

There’s formulas for all this stuff in Bronco Budget, maybe people have heard the $130 per credit or something like that. Yeah sure 190,000 student credit hours times $130 comes out to be about $25 million.

But again it’s not really budget or value and it’s certainly not revenue. It’s just a formula that says this many SCH are kind of valued at this many dollars and then similarly majors are valued at a certain amount about $800 per major.

And degrees are valued at a certain amount, about two grand per degree. It all adds up to about $32 million in value.

Or, I don’t even know if value is the right word but it’s not revenue. So really I should have said more about that. All these numbers kind of go into a formula and then become $32 million. But here’s what that $32 million actually is.

It’s part of the FY19 budget in the sense of…

Well Okay, the FY19 budget was already done. Before you did any of this Bronco Budget of machinery, before you even went back and got FY18 data and used it to set it up FY19 target yada yada yada.

The FY19 budget was already set. That was the point of my first two slides. FY19 budget was set via perfectly ordinary incremental budgeting the same way it’s been for years and years and years and years and years.

After the FY19 budget was already established at $43 million a long come all these formulas $130 per credit, $800 per major, yada yada. And the results of those formulas is you take the already set, already determined $43 million budget for FY19, and you color $32 million of things orange.

And that’s it. That’s all that happened when we turned on the Bronco Budget switch. A pre-existing $43 million budget became two colors.

But still exactly the same $43 million budget in FY19. So when we turned on the Bronco Budget switch the first thing that happened was nothing—no change to the FY19 budget.

So what does actually happen? Well, first of all, nothing for FY20 and then we’ll maybe kind of look ahead at the FY20 increment, and I say increment because Bronco Budget is now turned on

but we are still in an incremental budget model, meaning the FY20 budget is going to look a lot, like the FY19 budget and they’ll be some small increments as we move from 19 to 20.

As it happens, the FY20 increment included a Bronco Budget effect. As I mentioned in a previous slide, FY18 data sets an FY19 target and then there’s one more piece of information, in addition to the FY19

target, which are these numbers which I’ve just highlighted in gray, there’s the FY19 actuals which aren’t quite the same.

We missed our FY19 target. We came in a little low on SCH and we came in a little low on majors and, as it happens on the Bronco Budget…the Budget Office just decided to declare our degrees flat, even though they weren’t, so we can pretend degrees didn’t happen that year.

But we missed our targets by bit, and those missed targets cost us a little bit of budget: $130 per missed SCH and $800 per missed degree and again that’s not per SCH or per degree it’s per how much you missed the target.

And it all amounts to an increment of minus $350,000.

So that’s what Bronco Budget actually did shortly after the switches were turned on and the paintbrush came out and painted that $32 million of FY19 money orange.
As we rolled from 19 to 20 that orange money incremented a tiny, tiny bit down from $32 million to $31.65 million, which is rounded off. By the way, all the numbers in this entire slide deck are rounded roughly to the nearest hundred thousand dollars.

Sorry, I just didn’t want to fill it with decimals so.

By the way, while all that orange stuff was going on, and there was a downward increment of about $350,000 all of the ordinary regular incrementing went on from FY19 to FY20, there was some CEC, and there were some fringe changes and there was the usual stuff running around.

So the actual COAS budget went up to about $45 million in FY20 and what happened is the blue dollars went up by a little over $2 million and the orange dollars went down by a little bit.

By the way, on the right I have an all-blue graph and in some sense that’s what the world would have looked like if there had been no Bronco Budget ever.

When we got to FY20 we would have had a perfectly ordinary incremental budget year up to $45.3 million. And the fact that we didn’t have an ordinary, we had a Bronco Budget year, means that was kind of notched back a tiny bit, $350,000.

But the big thing to know about Bronco Budget here is it’s just one more increment in incremental budgeting. It happens to be an increment driven by what was your FY19 target, did you hit your target, and then there’s an FY20 increment in response to that.

That’s how the machinery works and what it does as part of incremental budgeting.

I’ve added this slide. This wasn’t here when I gave this talk on Friday. And here’s why I added this slide. Over the weekend I got an email from a person who made exactly this mistake.

So I thought, ok, I’m going to write a slide around that person’s mistake. By the way, if you’re in the audience, thank you. It was a very instructive thing that you sent me.

I’m not going to name any names, though. So here’s an example of how Bronco Budget is not revenue.

So let’s suppose the Department of Basket Weaving has this lecture, John Doe. And John Doe is quite a productive teacher. He knocks out eight sections every year of basket weaving 101.

Those are 3-credit courses and they always fill up to the capacity of, I don’t know, 25 students or whatever the department sets.

Ok, John Doe generated 600 SCH. According to Bronco Budget formulas John Doe generated $78,000.

And the important question to ask and answer is, how much revenue did John generate. And it is really, really important that everybody understands the answer is none.

John did not generate any revenue.

John contributed a tiny slice of the total COAS obligation to continue hitting that orange target of $32 million.

It’s not revenue.

It is meeting a pre existing obligation baked into our budgets when the orange paint brush came out and colored $32 million a new color and also set us a bunch of targets for SCH and majors and graduates.

By the way, the reason this is an important point is because the mistaken email I got this weekend was from a person who proposed to use the $78,000 to hire a new line.

To which the answer is, “sorry it’s not revenue. You can’t hire a new line.”

You are not generating revenue with this. You are meeting the $32 million obligation that is now baked into the College of Arts and Science.

>> Makenzie Phillips: Michelle has question about if our $32 million target is static or dynamic.

>> Doug Bullock: That’s a great question. Let me do my recap slide and we’ll cover it in the break, which is seconds away.

Well, minutes. I talk slow.

So, recap of Part I: Bronco Budget is not revenue.

That is the most important point.

What it does instead of generating revenue is it colors your budget in two colors instead of the usual one.

One color just goes about its normal business of incrementing normally. The other color increments based on enrollments. Which is a new thing. So we’ve added one more incremental device to the normal suite of incremental devices.

Another important thing about the second color of money, the orange dollars, is that as soon as those things are painted into place, they are a permanent obligation for the College of Arts and Science.

And I would add one more point to the recap slide, which is that anybody who thinks that Bronco Budget will pay for it is almost certainly making the mistake that I’ve alluded to elsewhere, the mistake that hey its revenue and it will do something.

It’s not revenue. It’s just meeting an obligation. And no, it won’t pay for it.

Okay, so that’s the end of Part 1. And now is a great time for questions. Makenzie said there were some. I’m not going to shut down the screen share, but I think I can find chat.

>> Makenzie Phillips: There’s just the one from Charles about static static or dynamic.

>> Doug Bullock: Well, Charles it’s dynamic in the sense that, in the first year we missed it.

And in some sense it’s dynamic in that ok, at least the upside of that is it reset our baseline to $31,650,000 and so we’re only obligated to then hit that target next year. But that’s also just another way of thinking about increment upon increment year after year.

The other way to say it is that sure it’s dynamic and now our target is lower, yay that’s good but that $350,000 is gone permanently, and the only way you can get it back is to increment it back up.

And Charles has asked the next question, which is obvious, “What if it goes the other direction?”

Yay, if it goes the other direction, then you had a positive year, you had a growth year, and new budget came to the college, which I guess you could maybe think of its revenue, but you have then also reset your baseline and now that’s your permanent obligation. So good for you.

What about random fluctuations? That’s the content of almost all of Part 2, so I think I will get to Charles’ question in some depth in Part 2.

Also, any hands? Did you see anything running around? Ok. Not at all uncommon based on what happened last time.

This bit is usually a lot of ok, yada, yada, he’s talking, he won’t shut up. I’m not very interesting. My experience is that it’s the second part that these audiences find quite interesting, so we may have more questions as we get into Part 2.

>> Makenzie Phillips: We’ve got one more question. The obligation is to whom are to what entity? So, the obligation of each department goes to the dean and the dean is obligated to the university.

>> Doug Bullock: Yeah so, I wrote the word permanent obligation on this slide, which is still visible. What I meant is that the college has a permanent obligation to the university

and the university enforces that permanent obligation by incrementing our budget down if we don’t need it. “Our” means the College budget Again, much more about this in the second set of slides.

There actually is no mathematical obligation on departments. Again, much more about this in Part 2.

So maybe we should just get there, but I’ll also answer Dawn’s question from the chat. Annually done, every year there’s a budget cycle. Although I think it’s related to Charles’ question, which is, what about random variation because there is quite a bit of variation.

So I’m going to slide on into Part 2, which I think addresses a number of the questions that have been asked, or alluded to.

So, Part 2: Bronco Budget in departments, which is way more interesting to these audiences, then the first stack of slides.

So I’m going to start with some general principles about Bronco Budget and departments, and then we’ll get on to some specifics, and I think most importantly, what are department responsibilities and obligations.

But general principles, the most important general principle is that Bronco Budget is not a department-level thing,

it only operates at the college level. In fact, there is a line item in the college budget that fluctuates up or down based on Bronco Budget that is specifically in Leslie’s portion of the budget. It is completely separate from any departmental budget.

Now it is the case that Leslie’s budget moving up or down may cause Leslie to go, “I think some of these effects should pass through to departments.” And those could be upward effects for those could be downward effects.

But they are not formulaic. There is no Bronco Budget formula for a department.

Instead, what there is is a Bronco Budget formula for the college, which affects Leslie’s budget and then, when there’s an effect on Leslie’s budgets, she

might want to sit down and talk with a chair about what effect this maybe would have in a department.

But that’s Leslie having a conversation with the department chair or Leslie and myself having a conversation with the department chair—not a formula and not an automatic increment in any departmental budget.

And the third really important principle is that, even though Bronco Budget does not operate at the department level, departments do in fact have a lot of responsibility and need to know a few things about what’s going on here.

Frankly, departments are where all the decisions really get made about what’s going to happen in a college or at the whole university. And when you’re making decisions at the department level you do need to be aware of how your decisions affect the college budget.

Which, in turn, may necessitate Leslie having a conversation with you about how that might affect your department. So you need to be aware of the impacts of your decisions, even though Bronco Budget does not operate at the department level.

So what does happen at the department level? Well ok, I mentioned that there are responsibilities. Right? Chief among them…like I said Bronco Budget writ large, is…it’s a permanent obligation upon the college for the college to maintain enrollments

in all three areas in student credit hours, in total number of majors and in total number of degrees granted.

So obviously the college doesn’t do that directly. The college relies on departments to do pretty much everything. But particular to Bronco Budget, there are three key responsibilities that the college expects of and relies upon departments for.

And the first is to maintain your course capacity—at least at whatever level students showed up to take your classes, say last year.

In some sense, more generally, you’re obligated to maintain your student credit hours as a department, but, honestly, it’s not mathematical. There’s no formula, there’s no baseline mark that you’re supposed to hit,

and you can’t really be held responsible for things like, I don’t know, students just aren’t so interested in basket weaving this fall and they wanted to take underwater fire suppression, or something like that.

Fine. The basket weaving department have a few fewer SCH no fault of their own.

But what is obligatory for the department of basket weaving is that they continue to offer sections that meet last year’s demand. So what a department is responsible for doing is not

kind of self inflicting SCH wounds. If students want to take 1,000 seats of basket weaving, you better offer a thousand seats basket weaving, not 800.

If there’s demand for 1,000, offering only 800 would be kind of a self-inflicted wound.

And of course responsibility number two is we need majors.

Departments need to be recruiting and retaining their majors. Again, I think everybody is aware of, but it’s just a general responsibility that attaches to the departments and would attach to departments, even if there wasn’t a Bronco Budget, but

now it has a direct impact on the college’s budget if recruitment or retention does not go well. And, of course, has a positive effect on the college budget if recruitment and retention do go well.

And then the third responsibility is that departments should be on the lookout for growth opportunities. If you see one, you should probably try to latch on to it and see if you could actually go capture some growth so that we could have a good effect on the college’s Bronco Budget.

So, primary responsibility: maintain capacity. And then, of course, keep majors, go get majors and maybe find some other growth opportunities.

So that’s a recap of department responsibilities and I’ll say again, none of these responsibilities are driven by, “here’s a number you have to hit” or “here’s a formula that’s going to attach to you or going to affect your budget.”

Those things happen at the college level. What happens at the department level is, we expect you to be aware of these responsibilities and to make decisions accordingly. And, if necessary, we may have to talk to you about how things are going.

Alright, so what actually happens to the dollars? I mentioned that the Bronco Budget does not attach to departments, the formulas don’t go there, they come to the college.

In the first year those formulas produced a net minus $350,000 for the College of Arts and Science.

So I want to talk a little bit about what that actually does in real terms to our operations or to what we can get done with our budget.

So it’s a real loss in FY20, it is definitely not offset by just having more blue dollars, granted the blue dollars got bigger and FY20, but truth is those blue dollars got bigger and FY20 for pre-allocated purposes: mostly faculty raises, staff raises, fringe changes.

And you can’t go in there and go, “I’m gonna use some of this to offset that minus $350,000.” I mean, you can’t just go say, “no raises for you I’m offsetting my Bronco Budget,”

that’s just not how the increments work. The blue increments are pretty much locked away and they’re kind of already allocated. And that means the orange downward increment,

you gotta take that loss somewhere.

By the way, you, sorry that’s the wrong pronoun, Leslie has to take that loss somewhere because Bronco Budget operates at the college level, not at the department level.

So what does happen to departments if it only happens at the college level and it was minus $350,000.

So here’s a sketch of what actually does happen in departments when the number is down.

Mostly nothing. I’ll say it again, Bronco Budget is a college level phenomena, not a departmental level phenomena.

The only time that Bronco Budget attaches to a department is when the college looks at the number and goes, “hmm, I think we need to do some pass through to departments with this particular number, I was some piece of this number.”

But that’s the college taking an action not Bronco Budget taking an action.

Mostly, the college does not pass these effects on to departments. And in fact, in a down year the college works, really, really, really hard to not pass any effects on to departments.

That’s why I say minimal to none. Fact I think in the first year, I think, correct answer is just no down impacts on departments. Leslie ate the whole loss.

There are some reasons why in any down year department impacts will be minimal to none. One of the reasons is that whatever is going on at the department level, it has much higher variance, Charles alluded to year over year variance, very much true.

There is also department-to-department variance, which is actually quite volatile in fact I’m going to skip off this text based slide and go ahead to just a graphical slide.

Not because I need you to read this graph I just need you to get an eye on the volatility and the variance.

So this graph is, I would say about 40% of the actual FY20 increments. If hypothetically we just applied the formulas to departments.

And it is immediately clear from this graph that even applying a muted partial version of the formula to departments, you get ridiculous answers.

You get negative numbers that are staggeringly huge and no department could absorb that in a single year as a down cycle, there would need to be some damping or smoothing. Even the kind of moderately sized negative bands are about $50 grand.

That’s firing a lecturer. It just doesn’t make any sense to run these formulas just straight into a department and say, “departments here’s your cut go figure it out.”

And it doesn’t work the other way either. The positive numbers, if you were to just drop this cash on the department, they wouldn’t be able to operationally do much with it at the moment that it dropped, it would take some time. And in fact this all argues for take your variance and your volatility and smooth it out.

The first thing that happens is, A, it’s already smooth. It already happened only at the college level with an aggregate effective minus $350k.

None of that happened to departments, It was all smooth at zero for all departments.

The second thing is variance over time. If we are going to do any pass through to department’s, positive or negative, it needs to be smoothed out over time.

You just can’t run the formulas for departments, you get these nonsense numbers, you get much too high volatility, much too high variance in the numbers.

So, again, the slide is just to give you a picture of the jaggedy variance and I’m going to go back to the text now.

In a down year what happens to departments. Minimally or nothing, is what happens to departments. First of all because there’s high variance and we have to smooth a lot of it.

By the way, if you have successive down years in the department, that might trigger one of those conversations. Again, no formulas, no direct pass through, some evidence it’s time to talk to the dean—that’s the departmental impact—a conversation with the dean.

Another thing that minimizes impacts on departments is that COAS just acts as a shock absorbers.

Again, this first year Leslie just absorbed all the shock no pass through to departments. The budget office also can absorb shock, although they do it less often college does.

The truth is even departments can absorb some one time shocks with carry forward but it’s a kind of a last resort.

The point being there’s at least three layers of shock absorber. First the college, then the budget office, and finally maybe a department that smooths out the impacts, if there are any at all on a department.

And then, finally, the third bullet point is just a restatement that it does not make any sense whatsoever to do direct pass through a Bronco Budget cuts or gains. It doesn’t make any sense to just take these formulas and apply them to a department, you get completely nonsensical answers, and so we just don’t. So, another way to say it is, I’ll say it a few more times, Bronco Budget does not operate at the department level, it’s a college level phenomenon of which a very small amount might pass through to a department in some special cases after we’ve gone through all the shock absorbing and the damping and so on.

And then finally, time variance. All this stuff varies over time. If we have a down year, the first approximation is Leslie tries to eat the entire loss and we just wait for an up year.

If that happens, no effects on departments. You don’t even have to know about it, you wouldn’t have even heard of Bronco Budget, it would had no effect.

And in fact that’s what happens in that first down year. Leslie ate the whole last we just waited for an up year.

So departmental impacts—not much.

By the way, you still have responsibility. You’re still responsible for maintaining enrollments; maintaining capacity, at least last year’s capacity; recruit and retain majors and, of course, watch for other growth opportunities.

But those responsibilities are not enforced by pass through of Bronco Budget effects. If anything they’re enforced with a conversation with the dean.

Variance and volatility, we’ve seen this. Ok, so this is a good year.

So, mostly I’ve talked about this one down year that we had right out of the box and the impacts on departments being essentially zero. What if there’s an up year? What are the impacts on departments? Where’s my revenue?

Well, a lot of good news in the down year: nothing bad happens to you. But offset by some muted good news in an up year: not much good happens either. Again the first principle for the college is to be a shock absorber to dampen variance.

And so, because we’re doing a lot of damping of variance, or we’re just taking a loss and waiting for an up year, we can’t just pass through Bronco Budget growth to departments dollar for dollar. Again if you just run the formulas for departments, you get these nonsense answers.

So we’re going to have shock absorbers at the college level, we can protect you from almost all the downs, but we also have to hold back some of the ups.

There is one thing that we do the third bullet point here: anything that went on growth wise in a department that made new costs of instruction, maybe just added sections of stuff, absolutely this passes through. And so cost of instruction reaches departments essentially as fast as departments grow their instructional needs, and that’s a clear positive pass through from Bronco Budget.

Actually, this happens even in a down year. The Bronco Budget cost of instruction is going to come to the department anyway, and if it’s a down year that’s just more dampening the college has to do.

The fourth bullet point is probably one of the key disappointments for the college in all of Bronco Budget, which is that there are times and places where departments are out there growing their major or having more majors or having more degrees granted which creates possible growth and Bronco Budget, I will stay a long ways away from the word revenue, but it could contribute to a growth year and it would be ideal if that could pass through to departments. It turns out it’s very, very difficult to functionally pass that through to departments. Again a lot of it’s because we’re doing a lot of damping and shock absorbing.

The other part of it is that, again, the formulas don’t work very well, they produce these kind of nonsense numbers, so you need some more muted way of passing through information about majors and degrees, or passing through dollars.

I’d say right now, all we managed to do is pass through dollars that associated with student credit hours or associated with new instructional costs or new sections of courses which you probably have if you’ve got a growing major or you’re growing your number of degrees.

But I’d say this is insufficient and it’s sort of clear gap in college policies.

I will say that Leslie’s strategic plan which is essentially finished, including a number of action items and to do items, very high on the list of to do items in Leslie’s strategic plan is to create a more operationally sound pass through model for this and for other revenue sources that flow through the college.

So we are actively working on it and we are simply not done. And at this point I’m not doing a good job of passing through majors degrees growth to departments should we happen to have a growth year and should you happen to be a growth department.

All right, other things that happen…, this is it, this is the recap.

Bronco Budget is a college thing, it does not happen to departments period.

If anything, does happen to you it was because the college had a conversation or a discussion or an action to take place with you, not because Bronco Budget happened to you.

One of the reasons Bronco Budget doesn’t happen to you is because the college softens all the impacts, loses all the variance and while we’re doing all this we at least pass through instructional costs, so if you have new cost of instruction that’s covered.

Now, despite the fact that the effects don’t come to you, you do have responsibilities, so the usual three things—maintain enrollments, recruit and retain majors, keep an eye out for growth opportunities—all of those responsibilities are necessary.

It is necessary that departments assume responsibility for these things so that the college budget will remain healthy.

So it kind of goes both ways, the college protects you from all the variance and vicissitudes and swings and Bronco Budget, but you need to support the College by working on these three responsibilities.

So that’s the end of Part II which usually has led to a few questions, because this is about department stuff. Do we have questions?

I haven’t been looking at chat or anything.

>> Makenzie Phillips: Charles asked if we’re maintaining course capacity of one academic year ago, but I think you answered that earlier.

>> Doug Bullock: Yeah, Charles that’s the basic target. It’s the most numerical of all the things in here, which is just look at last year’s numbers and try to put that capacity out there, or last like term or whatever you like to do when you’re building a schedule.

Well, not so many other questions.

Dan Scott expansion funding: yeah it’s point three on the previous slides Dan. This is trying to pass through the cost of any new instruction that you’re doing and then trying to stabilize it or make it permanent.

>> Makenzie Phillips: And then, “Who sets our targets?”

>> Doug Bullock: Well, the initial target was set by, ok, so the college targets. The college targets are absolutely formula driven. They are just this number of dollars times SCH and this number of dollars times majors and this number of dollars times degrees.

So when you say who sets our targets, it’s just that, it’s a formula. There isn’t even a who. In fact, I think one of the things the budget office likes about this, is there’s no person actually responsible for this, it’s just the formula, and no one gets tagged.

There you go, it’s formula. If the question was about who sets our, meaning the department targets, I’ll say, you don’t really have that. You do have this responsibility to maintain enrollments, the responsibility to maintain capacity that matches what students actually wanted to take from you last year, so in some sense your last year’s enrollment, you can think of as a target when you’re planning this year’s or next year’s schedule. In that sense your target is just set by student behavior—who showed up to take classes.

Jaechoul has asked an excellent question: all about quantity, what about quality? Again, a feature or bug you decide, for the budget office I think it’s a feature, that it’s only about quantity, and they don’t have to worry about much more subtle things like are these good SCH, are these useful SCH, are these things we should be doing relative to our values?

The model explicitly tries to stay away from it. So yes, Jaechoul, always about quantity and no, nothing in Bronco Budget it’s about quality.

But actually this touches on one of the I think deeper, deep issues with Bronco Budget, which keeps coming up in these and other meetings which is, so how come nobody seems to care about the rest of our mission, the things that we value and want to do like research, or creative activity or the service that everybody is providing to their students, to their profession, to their community, to each other.

So Bronco Budget, if you just look at Bronco Budget and the formulas and the verbiage, will leave you with the impression that nobody cares about those things. That’s not true. For example, your dean cares wholeheartedly and vitally, and all the time about things like the research mission, and the meaning of arts and sciences and humanities in the world, and the value that all of you bring to showing up and perpetuating that meaning.

And that’s okay. It’s perfectly fine for us as the professionals and practitioners in this space to embody our own commitment to those values and to delivering on that kind of quality and that kind of meaning—it’s just the while we’re doing and we got to keep an eye on our enrollments or there will be a slight downward increment in our budget, which we will deal with, and we will deal with it, presumably without saying, “Oh, I guess, we will stop doing research or something like that.”

So the budget, it creates this obligation to keep an eye on your enrollments. It does not say, “and stop caring about the other stuff,” in fact, you should continue to care about the other stuff at exactly the level that you have always cared about it, and probably at the level that brought you into this kind of business in the first place.

Bronco Budget is more my problem. But do keep an eye on your enrollments, please, and keep abreast of those three responsibilities toward maintaining enrollment.

Ok, any other questions or, should I go on to Part 3?

>> Makenzie Phillips: We’re ready for part 3.

>> Doug Bullock: Part 3. Part 3, is short and just math. And some people just tune out because they’ve heard the part they care about which was, “how does this affect me and my department?”

So part 3, is the actual numbers. So I’ve talked all about, you know, some kind of general principles and some specific examples from the very, very first year that had this downward increment of minus $350,000.

The Bronco Budget’s been running for three or four years now and here are the actual numbers across the entire time that Bronco Budget has been running.

So year to year to year to year incremental budgeting every single time.

Year to year to year increment the blue according to normal stuff, raises, fringes, every once in a while the provost actually funds one of our singular strategic budget requests that all goes in the blue increments.

And at the same time year to year to year orange increment based on did we or did we not meet or exceed our prior year targets?

And so what I’ve done with the four oranges, I made the first one kind of a lighter orange to point out that that was sort of fake orange, it was like just get out a paintbrush and paint $32 million orange to get ourselves going.

But every year after that the orange is sort of real. This really did happen because our enrollments did fluctuate so from 19 to 20 there’s that tiny small downward increment of the orange. From 20 to 21 that was a nice juicy increment up in orange.

Minus incremental blue, sorry about that. COVID and and whatnot. Sorry, in blue, and then another slightly down increments, you know we fluctuate. And you should. The orange stuff should fluctuate, it should be slightly volatile, there should be some variance and that’s fine. The college should smooth it all out over time, as well as across departments.

And, in fact, if you just take this thing across orange to orange to orange, there is a kind of net or aggregate after it’s all smoothed out and across all those years the grand total is plus $500 grand to the college, after all, those ups and downs.

Now there’s a tiny problem with that. We do push through to departments all the costs of any new sections that they’re operating and that’s cost us a million dollars. So actually the college is behind already. Even though we’re ahead, we’re already behind.

Another reason you should never think of Bronco Budget as revenue and you should also never make the mistake of thinking Bronco Budget will pay for it.

In actual fact Bronco Budget has paid about $500,000 towards a million dollars in costs, which means we’re net negative half a million for the college, since the inception of Bronco Budget. It’s not revenue. But it does not accrue to departments.

It happens to the college. It does mean that the college has to have soaked up $500,000 in losses across all these years, and not pass them on to departments. Yeah, that’s true. We have done that. Leslie has absorbed those losses and has not passed them on to departments.

I’m going to also drill a tiny bit into that net gain of $500,000, which in actual, sorry, total gain, gross of $500,000 net to minus $500,000 I was another slide.

So these orange increments which have come out to about plus $500 grand over three or four years, they come in three flavors: SCH, majors and degrees. Here it is broken out by SCH, majors and degrees. So across those years, all that fluctuating orange, our SCH up about 7,000 which is worth a million bucks.

But our majors are down a couple hundred and our degrees are down 100 which kinda is another almost half million. So that’s how we get to that net gain of $500,000.

There is one scary scary thing, though, in the 700,000 new SCH. I’m going to try to do some highlighting, I can make some gray.

So that net gain of 7,200 SCH actually involves a windfall of over 10,000 SCH that were simply dropped upon us and were not engineered because we went out and found growth or found new majors or did anything. Extended Studies dropped over 6,000 SCH on us by just getting out of the business of doing, what is it, remote campusy-type stuff.

They just quit. We took it over: 6,000 SCH.

We also got, the state board assigned the entire state, every institution a requirement that every student takes three credits or two credits of oral communication, which for us we’ve turned into a three credit COMM 101. So that’s a brand new requirement, which of course brings new SCH to the college.

But it’s not because we grew or because we took action or because we found majors or found students, it was just the state set a rule and boom here’s 4,000 new SCH. So we got more than 10,000 new SCH just because stuff kind of dropped on us.

While those drops were happening, we managed to lose 5,000 of our own. So our sort of normal of just going about our business as the College of Arts and Sciences, we’ve actually been bleeding away SCH, about 5000 of them, while we’ve been bleeding away majors and while we’ve been bleeding away degrees. So this is actually not, although a quote unquote net positive across the history of Bronco Budget, not actually a pretty picture for the college.

We have been slowly losing students on sort of all fronts, and then we got offsetting this 10,000 SCH, is kind of like a sort of a one off windfalls. In fact, generally, we’re down about two or 3% kind of over time.

It’s not bad, but it’s real and you know it’s the sort of thing that probably in a sustained way would get to be troublesome and it brings me back to the key element that actually matters for departments and Bronco Budget.

It doesn’t affect you. Bronco Budget is a college level thing not a department level thing, but you do have responsibilities, and they are to maintain your enrollments, to recruit and retain majors, and I think that’s actually going to get more and more important over time for the College, and to look for growth opportunities.

If you see a chance to grow something maybe we should go out and try to grow some.

So there’s also a recap of this, but it’s a recap of the whole talk. Now what?

What do we do going forward? Well if you’re a department, number one recruit, number two retain, because honestly, we could use a few more majors around here. That would help out a lot.

I would also like for departments to continue to keep an eye out for growth opportunities. By the way, if you see a growth opportunity, call me.

One of the things that I do with departments that say, “hey I have a growth opportunity” I go, “Oh, I can I can fund that, at least to get it up off the ground and see if it takes flight and actually produces growth. So if you see a growth opportunity, give me a call.

And then, of course, the fourth thing that is on the to do list is for the college, not for the department, the college does need to think harder about a more robust pass through model that does a better job of kind of actually doing the things that we really care about and respecting quality as Jaechoul pointed out, or any of the other values that we wish were respected by Bronco Budget that aren’t.

Inside the college, because Bronco Budget does not happen to departments, we can set up our own preferred structures for how the college actually moves departmental money around. It’s in the strategic plan, we’re working on it.

And that’s it that’s all I got for this little presentation.