Our View: Lester Lefton announces hiring freeze that could cause budget cutbacks

DKS Editors

Over break, President Lester Lefton announced a university-wide hiring freeze to prepare for expected cuts facing higher education. In an e-mail sent to faculty and staff on Dec. 15, Lefton pointed to the state’s anticipated $8 billion budget shortfall in 2011 as the primary reason for the freeze on hiring with exceptions only for positions “mission-critical” to the university.

In the e-mail he noted the university has estimated a 10 to 20 percent reduction in its state subsidy. University administrators are now charged with developing plans to deal with this cut in funding, and it is still unclear whether this will result in job losses.

Though a hiring freeze is the practical thing to do at this point, the obscurity of the future is unsettling. With open positions not being filled, the hiring restriction could mean larger classes, fewer elective options and fewer sections of certain classes. These are all things that can affect students.

It is still possible; however, to run efficiently and make the best of this situation despite the fact that the Kent State faculty will be shrinking rather than growing.

There are concerns about the consequences to follow, but the university is taking necessary measures to prepare for next year. The university needs to start tightening its belt in all areas. That means making small changes to cut back too.

Things like traveling when a meeting can be accomplished over Skype, not printing 20 eight-page syllabi and making more electronic documents can all help contribute to cutting back.

As long as the university takes every measure possible to prevent job losses, then they are dealing with this in the right way.

Cutting back is necessary during any financial crisis, and the university has to start doing it in a big way somewhere.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.