SSU starts 50th year under budget cloud

Sonoma State leaders opened the new academic year with a grim assessment of the economy's impact on the school, a call to focus more on diversity, a promise of faculty unrest and a dose of inspiration.

The school's traditional convocation on Monday marked its 50th year. It also marked the reality, said SSU President Ruben Armi?na, that the school is getting no more state funding than it got a decade ago while it has about 1,000 more students.

It also faces a further cut of $2.3 million in January if state revenues fall short of projections, as many expect.

"This seems highly probable," Armi?na said.

The school so far is set to get roughly $50 million from the California State University system. Student tuition was raised 12 percent in July, an addition to a 10 percent increase approved in November.

"In my time here, tuition has more than doubled," said senior Alex Boyar, president of the university's Associated Students Inc. organization.

He said the association plans to play close attention to how student fees are used. Fees and tuition make up approximately half SSU's revenue.

Boyar was among the leaders of a successful campaign last year to raise student fees $300 a year to pay for a new student center.

Work on the center is set to begin this year, Armi?na said, highlighting <NO1><NO>it as one of the few bright spots, along with the hiring of 14 tenure-track faculty and the completion of the music hall at the Green Music Center.

Boyar, though, spoke chiefly to efforts to improve diversity and resources for students of different backgrounds. He said SSU's administration, though it has devoted money and time to several high-profile initiatives, was falling short on diversity issues.

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