Gaunt reported on the October 6, 2008 Deans Council meeting:
At the Deans Council meeting VP Furmanski asked all deans to prepare a contingency plan for a 5% reduction in the budget this year. Governor Corzine has already asked state departments to model the same. We are not sure that this amount will be reduced, but the state budget is robust. Tax revenue projections are well below expectations and the current economy may exacerbate the situation. The top 1% of New Jersey residents account for 40% of the state income tax. If Wall Street continues on the current trajectory there will be no large bonuses for those residents employed there plus many layoffs . Consumer restraint in these uncertain times signals a drop in the sales tax. The largest sales tax comes from automobiles, and sales are down generally and people are not purchasing as many expensive cars.
The Libraries will need to begin planning for how to deal with a 5% reduction this year. We will use the State of the Libraries event to discuss this broadly. Cabinet will be providing details on our current financial situation for all the units. We will need to think strategically across the Libraries and nothing will be exempt from consideration. In all cases the priorities of our users will be the main criteria for what we continue to support. This will not be easy but will require us to think carefully and intelligently at our future. It is believed at this point that whatever reductions are made this year will be permanent until the state recovers and raises support for the university. We do not expect any announcement from the Governor until sometime after the elections.
Dean Schement has been recently appointed dean at SCILS, coming from Penn State University where he was Professor of Communications and Information Policy and a co-director and founder of the Institute for Information Policy. He is an expert on telecommunications and information policies and a great supporter of diversity. The dean was also a faculty member in the SCILS department of communications before he went to Penn State. Dean Schement provided an overview of his vision and goals for SCILS, and the Cabinet engaged in a discussion of areas of mutual interest. He noted that there are several areas that he hoped to emphasize in SCILS including an increase in interdisciplinary work and connectedness to other departments, and a focus on the competencies for the information age. He noted that librarians don't often express what they do in terms of its value to society. We need to elevate our language beyond the profession itself. Among the areas of collaboration were research sharing through exchanges (forums, lunch discussions, programs, and research days), research and study on the use of video games as learning tools, ethics, using NJ data as an ecosystem for the country, joint research grants, leadership in the university, and fund raising. We agreed that it would be helpful to define strategic niches of excellence which might include the aforementioned items.
This topic was tabled for an upcoming meeting due to discussions of the budget situation.