Sunday, March 13, 2016

"Mo Money, Mo Problems" - A. Rich Person

Kinkead and Simpson encourage WPAs to "educate [themselves] about budget lines and the rules regarding them" as one strategy for communicating effectively with other administrators (72). Anson offers, in his article, advice about creating maps to better understand and illustrate complicated WP budgets. He also offers a detailed, though fictitious, example of a WP budget to explain some of the generalizable points he makes about managing the budget.

This latter article, in particular, is one I plan to refer back to in the future. Being in charge of a budget is currently my biggest concern about doing administrative work. (Some of the articles we read this week indicated that not all WPAs are in control of their program's budget. I'm secretly hoping--don't tell ANYONE!--that if I'm ever a WPA, this will be my situation. However, I recognize that it would probably be better for the writing program if its administrator had hands in the game--or power in the pocket, as bloodthirsty Ed White might say.)

I was hoping that in my former position as an assistant director of the WC at Pitt State, I would be able to do some budget management to gain experience in this area, but the closest I got was writing sections of the annual funding request document. Sure, figuring out how to get money is important, but so is knowing how to use it once you have it. The fact that many job ads I've seen that include administrative responsibilities ask for applicants with experience in budget management proves this.

Furthermore, my experience as treasurer of GSAB this year has enlightened me with regard to how complex university funding can be. (We have money in three separate places: an official student organization account, which we basically can't use for anything because it's so regulated; a cash box in the department office, controlled by Sharon, which I'm pretty sure isn't totally kosher; and a "foundation" account that is actually shared with some other people(?). AND we're talking about opening another personal checking account, too! It's cray.) Of course I can't avoid mentioning, also, the unforeseen taxes problem that our Writing Program is currently struggling with as another example of why managing a budget for a university-affiliated program seems terrifying.

I'm hoping that this topic is one that will get taken up in our class discussions this week. I'd like to hear Mike's advice, in particular, about working with university funds. I also wonder how I can market myself (and, oh yeah, feel truly confident in the pitch) as someone who can manage a budget as an administrator even if I don't have any direct prior experience with it. Do you guys have other questions about budget work that you would add to the list for further exploration in class?

4 comments:

  1. The task of coming up with a budget for a writing program does seem complex and a big responsibility. Anson discussed how the key is figuring out what sources of funding are available and also determining what the largest funding concerns are for the program. Also, he discussed how the budget is always changing. I think that it would take quite a bit of communication with other people in the department who have experience with budgeting to determine a good course of action in allocating funds. I remember discussions at my previous institution about funding the writing center, and it was an intricate task to budget for all the tutors and GAs, but the assistant director and the director were in close communication about the center's operations. I think approaching the budget collaboratively makes a lot of sense.

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  3. So this reminds me of a conversation that I've had with my sister many times. We are are constantly frustrated when we hear people talk about college students and debt because there have been several times where people seem to be blaming the students for taking out so many loans and not knowing how to deal with them. The funny thing is that there was no discussion of loans or budgets or anything involving money when we were in high school. You want me make sure I understand calculus before I graduate? Well I want you to have a class that tell me how student loan work before and after I get them, as well as how to find alternative ways to pay for school.

    The same kind of feeling comes when I think about dealing with budgetary issues in administration. There's a lot of theory and stuff that gets talked about in our courses, but it wasn't until we started taking ENG 693 that we were able to discuss any of the practical issues that we'll deal with in academia, like finding grants. I have this feel that WPAs take a lot of heat when they are in charge of budgets that have problems, but has anyone actually taken the time to talk to any of these administrators about budgets? So colleges put on any kind of workshop or training program for those with admin jobs throughout the university? If not, then I think that should be something to start. If you want your university or department to be able to run as smoothly as possible, then you should make sure that your faculty and administrators have all the necessary tools at their disposal.

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  4. So this reminds me of a conversation that I've had with my sister many times. We are are constantly frustrated when we hear people talk about college students and debt because there have been several times where people seem to be blaming the students for taking out so many loans and not knowing how to deal with them. The funny thing is that there was no discussion of loans or budgets or anything involving money when we were in high school. You want me make sure I understand calculus before I graduate? Well I want you to have a class that tell me how student loan work before and after I get them, as well as how to find alternative ways to pay for school.

    The same kind of feeling comes when I think about dealing with budgetary issues in administration. There's a lot of theory and stuff that gets talked about in our courses, but it wasn't until we started taking ENG 693 that we were able to discuss any of the practical issues that we'll deal with in academia, like finding grants. I have this feel that WPAs take a lot of heat when they are in charge of budgets that have problems, but has anyone actually taken the time to talk to any of these administrators about budgets? So colleges put on any kind of workshop or training program for those with admin jobs throughout the university? If not, then I think that should be something to start. If you want your university or department to be able to run as smoothly as possible, then you should make sure that your faculty and administrators have all the necessary tools at their disposal.

    ReplyDelete