Chapter 6: Chair Budget Guide


The purpose of the department's budget is to support its ongoing activities. More fundamentally, departmental funds-which originate primarily from students' tuition dollars-are intended to support students' learning experiences. Therefore, one of the main responsibilities of a chair is to ensure accountability and proper management of the department's budget in a manner consistent with the colleges' mission and goals.

General Information and Expectations

A department will have a primary account at one of the two business offices; however, because of student salary accounts, which, for men, are housed at Saint John's and, for women, at Saint Benedict's, and faculty salaries which are housed at the college which holds the faculty contract, departments will also have a second account. The second account will contain only relevant salary-related accounts. The campus on which the primary budget is housed, however, should not be confused with the funding source. The academic budget as a whole is funded by both colleges, with cost-sharing based on enrollment.

Each department chair can access current budget reports via the Cognos system on the business office websites. See the Budget Reports section at the end of this chapter for more information. The chair or department coordinator should examine these reports on a regular basis to track departmental spending, to effectively steward departmental resources, and to watch for mistaken entries. (The wrong number on an invoice or check request can impact your budget, so it is worthwhile to check if all charges are in the right places.)

The colleges' fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. Every department budget is expected to conclude the fiscal year with a positive balance. In other words, any budget lines running a deficit must be balanced by lines with an equal or greater surplus. Because of their unique nature, transfers are not possible from capital, salary, student salary, fringe benefits, travel, assessment, and supply accounts. Otherwise, funds can be transferred from areas of low need to areas of high need, within limits of the overall budget. To transfer funds from one budget line to another, the chair completes a budget revision form available online from either business office. That form is forwarded to the associate academic dean for approval.

If certain budget lines perennially end the year with deficit balances whereas other budget lines end with surplus balances, the department chair should consult with the associate dean. If appropriate, the chair may request a budget reallocation from the associate dean.

If, due to unforeseen circumstances or insurmountable challenges, a department does not expect to balance its budget, the chair should contact the associate dean to discuss possible solutions as early as possible during the fiscal year. Because a positive balance at the departmental level is critical to a positive balance for the academic budget as a whole-and, by extension, a positive balance for both college budgets-Academic Affairs relies on the care of the chairs in maintaining the integrity of their budgets.

Each year, departments will be asked to submit budget requests for the next fiscal year. New money requests need to be documented with specific reference to our strategic plan.

Questions? Specific concerns regarding forms and the proper accounting of charges, transfers, reimbursements, etc. can be most expediently addressed with either the executive secretary in the Business Office at SJU or the accounting assistant in the Business Office at CSB. Questions regarding more general policy or procedure, suggestions for improvement in processes, etc. can be directed to the academic dean.

Notes on Budget Lines


Budget reports may show compensation (salary) lines for faculty and support staff. These lines are used for internal accounting purposes, and, under most circumstances, a chair is not expected to monitor them since they do not enter into the budgeting process at a departmental level.

Student Salaries - General

Each department receives an allocation for student salaries. Departments are authorized to hire students within the limits of their salary allocation. Those allocations are reviewed annually by the student employment office to determine if funds should be shifted to better meet departmental hiring needs. If, for example, a department has not utilized all of its departmental funding for student employees for two years, the Director of Student Employment may reallocate some of the student employment funds to an academic department requesting additional student assistance.

Student salary funds can be transferred from CSB to SJU and vice-versa, so that departments can adjust the salary budgets to fit the gender balance of their student employees. However, student salary funds cannot be transferred to another budget line. This restriction is a formal safeguard to ensure that student employee funds do not compete for funding with other departmental priorities.

Student Salaries - Research

There are several sources of funding for student research and scholarly/creative projects during the summer and throughout the year. The Director of Experiential Learning & Community Engagement oversees budgetary funds that support direct costs of student projects and student travel to present at meetings. The Honors Program supports student scholarship through the Honors Thesis Program and a small number of Summer Research Fellowships for juniors preparing to write an Honors Thesis. Some departments receive budgetary funding for Summer Research Fellowships through Financial Aid/Student Employment. Departments may contact the Financial Aid/Student Employment Office to inquire about the availability of/apply for student employment funds to support student or student/faculty collaborative projects during the summer. Faculty participating in summer work with students receive a small stipend. Departments should consult with the Director of Experiential Learning & Community Engagement and the academic dean regarding their needs for student research funding. Planning several years in advance for anticipated summer or academic year student research funding is strongly suggested.


To support the efforts of faculty members to stay abreast of developments in their fields and engage with the larger scholarly community, a travel allowance of $750 is allocated for each full-time (greater than 3/6ths) member of the department. This allocation is made for faculty on sabbatical (but not on leave) and for faculty with term contracts, as well as for faculty with tenured and tenure-track appointments.

The travel allotment is primarily individual, and secondarily departmental. Each full-time faculty member should have access to at least $750. Understandably, some faculty members may not have need of their full allowance in a particular year, while others may have need of more. Therefore, the department may wish to allot unneeded funds to those members who request additional support. This action might be accomplished in several ways, including an application system at the beginning of each semester or through a process of ongoing requests. In sum, after meeting individual needs, travel funds should be shifted to best meet the needs of the department as a whole.

Unspent travel funds at the end of the fiscal year revert to the academic dean's faculty travel budget account for funding extraordinary travel needs. The faculty development committee, as well as the academic dean, may accept requests for extra funding in cases of international conferences or other needs in excess of departmental resources.

Travel funds are not to be transferred to other lines within a departmental budget. Because of the importance of professional development, funds dedicated to faculty travel should not be used to support other departmental functions.

The Business Offices request that charges to travel accounts be made in the fiscal year in which the activity occurs. Although pre-payments in June for a conference in August can be arranged, the departmental travel account will be charged for the payment in the fiscal year in which the conference takes place.

Office Expense

The office expense line funds the purchase of routine office materials, and, in cases where there is not a separate line for duplicating, photocopy expenses are also charged to this line. Please note that expenses related to courses which charge fees should not registered in this line. As noted below, all materials related to fee-bearing courses should be charged to the line labeled "Supplies".


The charge for each telephone extension is $350 annually. Typically, telephone charges are assessed early in the fall of the year and an expense statement is sent to each department monthly. As a standard policy, faculty are expected to reimburse the department for long-distance calls of a personal nature. Department chairs receive a monthly long-distance telephone charges report. Any questions/reimbursements should be directed to the sender of those reports.

If the departmental budget has inadequate funds for telephones in the telephone budget line, chairs should project costs for the entire year and transfer sufficient funds from another budget line to cover the anticipated deficit. If a department anticipates a continuing need for additional funds in this budget line (staffing increases, etc.) this should be addressed in the annual departmental budget request. Departments are encouraged to steward this budget line by eliminating phones which are no longer needed or by sharing among neighboring departments fax and/or student worker lines.

Supplies (course fees)

Fees may be added to courses/labs which involve heavy use of disposable materials or other course-specific items. Students pay fees in accord with the cost of those materials used during the course.

Ideally, the fee revenue collected from students should be matched by an allocation in the supply line of the departmental budget. But because of a few imbalances between fee revenue and supply budgets which remain embedded in the budgeting process, several departments will continue to receive more or less supply funding than they actually generate. Academic Affairs has worked closely with the Business Office to close the gaps and improve accountability to students. That effort will continue as budget adjustments are made each semester based on actual enrollments in fee-bearing courses. At the same time, it is important for departments to carefully monitor the expenses charged to the supplies budget lines.

Funds may not be transferred from the supplies line of the budget to other lines.

To ensure fees are being properly assessed, Academic Affairs requires that any modifications in course fees be proposed by the chair and approved by the associate academic dean before being printed in course registration materials. Proposals for modifications should include relevant information such as the course description, materials used in the course, enrollment projections, and needs unmet by the current supply budget.

To allow for review, proposals should be submitted to the associate academic dean by the first week of the semester prior to the offering of the course. Fees may not be added to a course after students have registered for that semester.


Each department has a budget line to support departmental assessment efforts. Unspent dollars in this budget line are carried forward to supplement this line in the following fiscal year. This allows departments to plan major assessment projects for a particular year and to build a fund to support that project. The director of Academic Review and Curricular Advancement also has available to departments some additional funds to supplement major assessment projects. Contact the director of Academic Review and Curricular Advancement to apply.

Capital - Technology

Department chairs are notified early in the spring semester of the timeline for requesting desktop computing hardware, classroom/lab technology and academic software. Such requests are submitted on-line to the Committee on Academic Computing. Requests should include a brief description of the intended user(s), item descriptions and notes regarding each item requested. Because requests inevitably outstrip the capital funding available for technology-related purchases, full information about each item's importance to the department's courses, research opportunities, and general program will help the academic officers make well informed allocations. The Committee on Academic Computing completes its work and department chairs are notified before the end of the spring semester of funded CAC requests for the upcoming academic year.

Capital - Other

Capital is understood to be durable equipment of significant value. As a general guideline, capital items are those which cost $1,000 or more. However, less expensive items needed for permanent laboratory or office equipment may be considered in departmental capital requests.

Capital request forms are sent to department chairs once each year, typically early in the fall semester. Departments requesting capital allocations will be asked to include a 5 year capital request plan and a brief justification and priority of requested items. Departments will be notified of provisionally approved allocations by April 15. Approved funds are made available after the 10th Day of Classes in the fall semester, and purchases should be made during the fiscal year.

After capital awards are made early in the fall, departments should purchase equipment as intended during the fiscal year. In special circumstances carryover may be arranged; for example, a back-ordered item or other justified reasons. Such an arrangement must be approved by the associate academic dean in advance of the close of the fiscal year.

Capital allocations are made for specific items requested by the department. If the department wishes to purchase equipment other than that specified in its request, the chair should contact the academic dean.


Funds in this line are intended for the maintenance of existing equipment and the replacement of minor tools and instruments. The purchase of new equipment worth more than $500 (i.e. capital) is not appropriate, unless specifically approved by the associate academic dean. Because carryover in this budget line is not possible, chairs should survey repair needs early in the year and develop a maintenance schedule to ensure that all repair funds are properly expended by year end.

Allocation Lines

Departmental budget reports may also contain allocation lines. These lines represent internal charges which move funds between areas or between CSB and SJU. Allocation lines are not used for any kind of expenditure nor are they counted as part of the departmental budget.

Program Review

The colleges rotate programs through a process of formal review. The academic dean administers the budget for this process and works closely with the chair throughout the review. Requests for support of departmental program review costs, typically the travel and stipend costs of external reviewers, should be made of the vice provost well before such costs are incurred.

Notes on Chair Responsibilities

In addition to reviewing actual departmental expenses versus budgeted amounts on a regular basis and making capital requests for technology-related and other items, department chairs are responsible for approving travel advance and expense reimbursement forms and check request forms generated by faculty in their department. In reviewing these forms, department chairs should be satisfied that such requests meet college requirements, are valid expenditures for the department, and are charged to the proper account. Department chairs may not approve their own travel advance and expense reimbursement forms and check request forms; rather, these forms should be submitted to the associate academic dean for approval.

Budget Reports

Account number

The middle five digits of the account number are particular to each department. Numbers which begin with "6" denote an account housed at Saint John's; numbers which begin with "9" denote an account housed at Saint Benedict's. The last five digits are assigned to specific lines and are common across departments. The number "71201" for example is always for telephones.

Budget Report Options

Departmental budget and actual expenditure reports can be accessed via the Cognos system. See the Finance Reporting Environment web page for a tutorial and the links to generate budget reports.

If a department chair or coordinator requires more detailed or specialized reporting capabilities, they can contact the business office that houses the department budget.

Last updated: September 2013