Departments prepare for possible budget cuts

By Gus Bode

One SIUC college could lose $552,000 from its budget for the 2008 fiscal year if proposed department cuts get passed.

Interim Chancellor John Dunn said all university departments have been asked to create hypothetical budget cuts for their respective departments. They were to examine options for a two, four and six percent budget cut, he said.

A six percent budget cut for the College of Applied Sciences and Arts would mean a loss of $522,000, a change in offered courses, less staff for some programs and reduced enrollment, said Dean Paul Sarvela.

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“What’s really unfortunate about the whole situation is that we already turn away students in College of Applied Sciences and Arts because our programs are so popular,” he said. “Unfortunately we’d have to turn away more students if these cuts come through.”

The cuts combat a $4.5 million deficit the university will incur due to salary increases, rising utility costs and a decreased student enrollment, among others, Dunn said.

“We’ve advanced a plan that says, ‘Look, show us what a two percent reduction in your budget would look like – show us what a four percent reduction would look like and show us what a six percent reduction in your budget would look like,” he said. “The intent of that is to differentiate the reduction amounts.”

Dunn said the cut in resources could negatively impact students, but said the goal was to minimize these effects. He said the university’s primary function is to educate students, and said it would continue to do so.

Sarvela said the cuts would make it tough for his department to function as it does now, but said he understood why the university needed more money.

“It’s not that we don’t understand that we have a need to make these reductions because we do know it is going to be tough sledding here for next year,” he said. “We’re just going to try and do it in a way that’s going to have the least impact on our students.”

Faculty Association President Marvin Zeman said he feared the cuts could disrupt learning at the university. He said students would feel the impact from the decreased resources because certain classes could be cut.

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Zeman said the greatest concern to students was where the heaviest cuts would be. Academics should get the smallest cut because they directly affect student learning, he said.

“If indeed the cuts are disproportionately affecting the colleges, then that does not bode well for the students,” Zeman said. “Then it directly affects the courses they take, who teaches them and, on a more immediate basis, whether they’ll be able to take the courses they need to graduate.”

Dunn said he believes the cuts could be temporary and said the proposed cuts are not finalized. He said those he has worked with understand the university’s problems and have been willing to help the university make up for the deficit.

“I give the university community very high marks,” Dunn said. “I think people are trying to do responsibly the right thing here, and I’m pleased about that.”

Dunn said the need for cuts was unfortunate, but said the university would continue to provide students with the education they deserve by minimizing the negative impact cuts could have on academics.

“This is not ever good news,” he said. “We’d all like to be increasing 2, 4, 6 percent, but that’s just not the hand we’re dealt right now.”

[email protected] 536-3311 ext. 268

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