Statement on Financial Transparency

We sent the following to the PSU administration on October 30, 2023:

Dear President Birx:

Recently a faculty member brought to the attention of the PSU-AAUP Executive Committee a discrepancy in financial numbers in your PowerPoint presentation to the PSU Community during University Days on August 21, 2023. In particular, slide 28 showed positive revenue margins in 2019 and 2020. According to article 15.1.3 of the 2018 contract between USNH and the tenure-track faculty union, a positive revenue margin over 1% entitled PSU-AAUP bargaining unit members to a proportional pay raise, which members did not receive. When we inquired about the numbers presented to the faculty and staff, your office investigated and provided the following explanation: the numbers in the PowerPoint presentation included revenue streams that were not included in the annual report to the Board of Trustees. Moreover, the lower revenue margins reported in the annual reports for those years were the “right” numbers, meaning faculty members were not entitled to raises in those years. 

This discrepancy shows that the facts about USNH’s and PSU’s financial situations shift depending on the audience. From the point of view of shared governance between the administration and the faculty, these shifting numbers represent a violation of trust. We are repeatedly told that financial data are available, accessible, and public, and that the processes by which they are calculated are fully transparent. This is certainly not the case in this situation. 

Now we are left wondering about other messages being delivered to faculty and staff about the necessity of certain cuts, about what programs and initiatives are doing well or struggling, and about which expenditures add value. If data being used to justify institutional decisions can be reshaped and repackaged at whim, then how can the faculty and staff, the students and their parents, and taxpayers of New Hampshire trust that PSU and USNH leadership is acting for the common good? 

In the future, we will demand clearer, more reliable evidence of cost-savings, revenues, projections, and program efficacy. When we are asked to participate in institutional data driven decision-making, we will make use of whatever resources we need to ensure that the data driving any proposals are accurate and relevant. We will also work to ensure that the processes around determining financial conditions of the University are transparent and accessible to all stakeholders. We believe such diligence and cooperation is a basic obligation that we have as stewards of one of New Hampshire’s great public universities. Rebuilding that trust on a foundation of full transparency is key to institutional morale and sustainability. It will help us collaborate more effectively and better serve the University.

We look forward to working with you more closely on achieving these goals.


The Executive Committee of the PSU-AAUP

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