Wendler proposes budget cuts

By Gus Bode

Reductions of 5 to 10 percent proposed for fiscal year 2004

With state budget cuts that recently left SIUC short-changed by $23 million, University officials are already hunting for ways to reduce spending by 5 to 10 percent for fiscal year 2004.

Wendler outlined a proposed 5- to 10-percent reduction in spending in a July 16 memo sent to the provost and vice chancellors.

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In the memo, he asked officials to plan for cuts from all funding sources, with the exception of grants. Wendler proposed that the dollars saved by the reductions be used for excellence funding and Southern at 150, his long-term plan for where the University should be by its 150th birthday in 2019.

Wendler requested that all programs and services by examined for possible cutbacks but added that reductions should not be equally distributed in all units or departments.

“Some programs or units may need to be combined to more effectively use the resources available and maximize potential,” he wrote in the memo. “We should develop specializations in area of excellence with high demand and market these areas accordingly. No stone should be left unturned during this review.”

The University was also hit with a $1.5-million loss last fall because of an enrollment drop of 954 students. All departments sliced more than $1 million from their budgets in February.

Wendler could not be reached for further comment Wednesday.

The colleges may have to streamline by combining units and departments, but that might be enough, said John Koropchak, dean of the Graduate School and vice chancellor for Research.

“Whether that will be enough to account for 5 to 10 percent is a difficult question,” he said.

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Koropchak also added that looking for ways to trim spending will aid the University.

“It’s always important to evaluate an organization,” he said. “Going through this exercise can be a valuable process.”

But Morteza Daneshdoost, president of the Faculty Association, said he is concerned about what effect the proposed budget cuts might have on the University.

“Based on the budget reductions of the departments and programs during the last year, it appears that the only way to get more out of the departments is to sacrifice the quality of education by having less number of courses being offered or much larger classes for students,” he said. “Since the departments are almost down to the bare bones, Chancellor Wendler should look for the fat somewhere else.”

Student Trustee Ted Clark said the chancellor is in a difficult situation with the budgetary concerns.

“He’s doing what he needs to do,” he said.

But without yet seeing what the effects of the proposal will be, Clark said he won’t automatically support every cut that is made.

Putting the fall course catalogue online is one way that costs have been cut, said Larry Dietz, vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

Dietz said he will continue looking for ways to trim expenses this fall.

George Swisher, dean of the College of Engineering, said he is uncertain how his college will cut costs.

“We really don’t know yet,” he said. “We’re really not in it far enough.”

Reporter Ben Botkin can be reached at [email protected]

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