University faces more budget cuts this semester

Nicole Stempak

Lefton asks staff to prepare for a number of situations

Kent State has already tightened its budget by nearly $1.8 million, and President Lester Lefton plans to cut it even more if necessary.

If the state does not give Kent State more funding, he said tuition will likely increase in the fall.

“If they give us an increase in our funding, I think it (the tuition freeze) will be there,” he said. “It’s clearly very popular, but (the university will almost need to) close if they just freeze tuition for a couple more years and not give us any increases.”

Lefton said he is hopeful that the nearly $1.8 million in cuts is the end of this year’s budget cuts, but he is planning for the worst.

“I have asked the deans and the vice presidents to plan, and the plan that I’ve asked them for is a serious budget cut, a disaster budget cut and a catastrophic budget cut,” he said, emphasizing this is just a planning exercise.

“It’s sort of like if I told you ‘Oh by the way, you have to write a 40-page term paper tomorrow’; you don’t want that to happen.”

Lefton explained that because they don’t know what, if any money will be cut, the vice presidents need three plans to ensure they are prepared for the worst.

Gregg Floyd, vice president for business and administration, said drafts of these three plans are due by the end of January, which will coincide with Gov. Ted Strickland’s State of the State address Jan. 28. Floyd said he hopes Strickland will give Kent State administrators a better idea of the governor’s priorities for the next year.

“We’ll find out more clearly what kind of fate we’ll have,” Floyd said, adding higher education has been fortunate to avoid budget cuts this long.

Strickland recently announced $640 million in new budget reductions for a total of $1.9 billion in cuts for the current year’s budget, which ends June 30. It was the first time Strickland has made cuts to higher education.

Floyd said most of the $1.8 million state-forced budget cuts are restricted line-item cuts, meaning they are from specific programs. The cuts eliminate a collaborate graduate education project in computer science. It makes smaller cuts in:

&bull Economic growth – Research Incentive Program

&bull College Readiness – NorthEast Center for Excellence

&bull Urban University – Learning and Technology – College of Education, Health and Human Services

&bull Urban University – Ameritech Classroom Center – College of Education, Health and Human Services

&bull Urban University – KSU Cleveland Design Center – College of Architecture and Environmental Design

&bull Urban University – Northeast Ohio Research Consortium – biology department.

“So far, the traditional undergraduate student has been spared by the governor and chancellor,” Floyd said.

But for the next two-year financial plan, the Office of Budget and Management projects state budget deficits of as much as $7.3 billion, meaning probable budget cuts to state agencies that may include higher education.

Contact administration reporter Nicole Stempak at [email protected].