Decision -making processes and budget outcomes during state appropriation reductions: A case study at San Jacinto College

Tuesday Lee Stanley, University of Pennsylvania


Texas higher education experienced unprecedented enrollment and budget growth during the 1960s and 1970s. Administrators were formally trained in managing the growth of these colleges and universities, with little thought to controlling costs or responding to state appropriation reductions. The funding picture dramatically changed in the 1980s and appropriations for public colleges and universities in Texas have remained volatile over the past two and half decades. During this time, administrators at Texas' public higher education institutions have had to learn to make difficult retrenchment decisions. While a decision-making process may not have consciously been chosen, historically, budget outcomes have followed decision-making theories. For this case study of San Jacinto College, a Hispanic serving institution, the decision-making process and the outcomes reached when building their budget in 2002–2003 and 2003–2004 were examined. Specifically two decision-making models—rational choice theory and the garbage can model—were used to examine the process. The rational choice theory suggests that data are used to support rational decisions based on rules and regulations, mission and goals and constituents. The garbage can model recognizes that there is often not enough time to gather valuable data; decisions are chaotic, based on politics and power. During the 2002–2003 state appropriation reduction period, the leadership of the College had little time to respond to the appropriate reductions and thus they followed the Governor's suggestion to reduce travel, capital outlay and personnel; not able to take the time to reflect on the College's annual plan or long term goals, a classic component of the garbage can model. For the 2003–2004 fiscal year, San Jacinto College was able to reflect on their strategic goals, take time to plan and communicate their actions to their constituents and reduce their operating budget in ways that were not detrimental to their long-term viability. During this reduction period, the leadership of the College made the most of the available time to make budget decisions that were cognizant of their constituents, a reflection of the attributes of the rational choice theory.

Subject Area

Community colleges|School finance

Recommended Citation

Stanley, Tuesday Lee, "Decision -making processes and budget outcomes during state appropriation reductions: A case study at San Jacinto College" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3168045.