Lefton is ‘nervous’ about KSU budget

Kaylee Remington

President spoke yesterday to faculty members about budget and layoff worries

President Lester Lefton told staff from the College of Arts and Sciences yesterday that no additional faculty will likely be hired in the next year.

Lefton also addressed faculty concerns over potential layoffs related to budgetary limitations.

“I’m very nervous,” said Lefton, who described the university’s budget as being in “serious condition.”

Key points from

Lefton’s address: &bull No layoffs are planned, and no open positions will be closed.

&bull KSU has gone through $5.5M in budget cuts during the past 12 months.

&bull The president said other universities, such as Miami University and Bowling Green, are struggling

in ways KSU isn’t.

Lefton said, despite constraints, Kent State is not going through extraordinary financial changes. Currently, no layoffs are planned and no open positions will be closed.

Over the past 12 months, the university has gone through budget cuts totaling $5.5 million. As of right now, no new budget plans are in place, according to Lefton.

Before the economy went into a recession late last year, the university expected to have a deficit of $4.7 million due to Gov. Ted Strickland’s tuition freeze.

“He will continue to keep higher education as his top priority,” Lefton said about the governor’s move to keep Ohio’s university tuition freeze.

Additionally, the university finances part of the operating budget from the increased value of its assets. The value of the assets has increased over the years, and has been used to fund the budget.

But now, Lefton explained, assets aren’t going up.

“Not only did we not get that increased asset value, but in fact our assets fell in value,” he said.

Lefton explained that now is the time to “tighten our belts” to keep the budget stable. Responsibility Center Management will formulate solutions for how each department is funded, either by college or Lefton himself.

“All it does is shift who is making the decisions,” Lefton said.

Faculty who attended the meeting were skeptical about how RCM will work. A faculty member questioned the RCM model to ensure that the faculty won’t be “bulldozed or screwed.”

RCM will stay the same concerning how much money is in it, but the decision of it will be based on Lefton or the deans of the colleges.

Lefton said other universities are struggling in ways that Kent State is not. According to Lefton, Arizona State closed 49 programs, merged departments, laid off four deans and 500 staff members. Miami University has lost $22 million, and Bowling Green has lost $11 million so far this year.

“We live in this economy where everyone is suffering. Nobody here is suffering. No one has lost their jobs,” Lefton said.

Lefton said he does not believe the current economic turmoil will leave lasting effects on the university, adding that it is time for Kent State to “double down on our excellence.”

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Kaylee Remington at [email protected].