Financial effects of University System uncertain

Contributions to this article: Amadeus Smith, Tyrel Linkhorn, Kira Meixner, Danielle Duke,

Jennifer Guerrieri, Lisa Moore

It seems that administrations at universities and colleges across Ohio will have to grit their teeth and wait as no financial projections have been made for the new University System of Ohio.

“This is very much in the first stages,” said David Creamer, senior vice president for administration.

Creamer said the amount of funding, state or grant, has not yet been appropriated.

With no current projections to back up a statewide higher education project, which will affect 13 state universities with 24 branch campuses, a public medical school (NEOUCOM) and 23 two-year technical and community colleges, Creamer said he’s sure there’s debate over the amount of preliminary research.

This shortage of initial research, he said, may be due to the March 31 deadline of a draft of the master plan.

“There are some time restraints that are affecting the way he goes about the plan,” he said.

Creamer said he believes, statewide, there is a consensus of agreement about the goals, but how to get there remains unseen.

And with no concrete plan, Kent State officials can only speculate as to the affect of the plan’s money flow for the university.

Though the idea of the system is to focus on the individual strengths of each institution, Creamer said he didn’t expect a noticeable change in funding.

Creamer said Chancellor Eric Fingerhut believes the increase in funding in an area the university focuses on will outweigh losses in other departments.

Creamer added that one university focusing funds into one area of study doesn’t necessarily mean that another university with a strong department in the same field will lose students. After asked about strong architecture programs at both Kent State and Ohio State, he said Kent State’s program wouldn’t likely be in danger of losing money because it is recognized for different reasons than Ohio State’s program.

John West, vice president of research and dean of graduate studies, said while Fingerhut’s plan focuses on science and technology, he gets the sense that funding for the arts will remain important.

“That would place us in a much better place to secure external funding,” he said.

West, a major player for Kent State’s grant money, said while “there’s always a concern when making changes,” for the most part, he’s pleased with what he’s heard from Fingerhut.

And the system shouldn’t require a large monetary contribution from Kent State.

Creamer said typically there is a very modest amount of money appropriated from universities and colleges.

“Institutions contribute not dollars, but human resources,” Creamer said.

Charlene Reed, secretary to the Board of Trustees and senior assistant to President Lefton, said this idea holds true for the current proposed system.

“In general, the creation of this system of itself is not intended to have a financial impact on any given institution,” Reed said.

Still, most of what is being discussed about the system remains speculative.

“It’s impossible to say how any of this is going to work out in the end and it’s certainly impossible to predict the financial outcome,” Reed said.