University budget at a standstill

Julie Sickel

Plans for the university’s 2011-12 budget are at a standstill as university administrators wait for a final budget to pass in the state.

Gov. John Kasich proposed a budget March 15, but he and the legislature will have to work together to approve the final product.

“This is just a hurry-up-and-wait drill,” Provost Robert Frank said. “We’ve been planning for almost six or eight months. When the governor announced his plans, we had more information on what he thinks, which is obviously an important piece of the equation.”

The new budget period for Kent State begins July 1. President Lester Lefton said under Kasich’s proposal, the university could take a 14 percent cut in state funding.

“My number one priority is to have this impact students as little as possible,” Lefton said. “It has to do with layoffs of faculty, closing colleges; that’s the kind of thing that I don’t want to happen. That impacts students.”

In anticipation for potential cuts, Lefton and Frank said the university has been making changes to ensure that the cuts would affect the university as little as possible.

“Will there be no impact? No. But I think it will be minimal; I think it will be around the edges,” Lefton said.

In addition to the current hiring freeze, Frank said the university has been encouraging colleges to share staff positions to cut costs. For example, the College of Business Administration and the College of Education, Health and Human Services are currently sharing a financial officer.

“The second thing we can do is grow revenue through a healthy incoming class next year,” Frank said.

Summer enrollment is up 13 percent from last year, Lefton said, and recruitment for the fall looks promising.

Lefton and Frank would not speculate on whether the budget cuts would mean an increase in tuition.

“We’ve planned as much planning as we can do, now it’s simply up to the legislature to give us some direction.”

Contact Julie Sickel at [email protected].