Faculty Senate focuses on finance

Rachel Abbey

Provost Paul Gaston and President Carol Cartwright addressed prospective budget cuts and an increased emphasis on measures to raise revenue for the university in tight financial times at yesterday’s Faculty Senate meeting.

Cartwright said the university faces a projected $6.5 million budget cut next year to balance the lack of state funding. Even with the anticipated $1.5 million in revenue, the university still faces $5 million in losses, Cartwright said.

The university is still searching for alternate options to increase funds, Cartwright said. Any savings the university finds will be directed at reducing the deficit. The university does not want or accept these cuts and are working toward alternatives.

“There is no doubt that we have our work cut out for us in the next few weeks,” Cartwright said.

Two key issues for the university are enrollment and retention, especially in the undergraduate program, Cartwright said.

Enrollment and retention create both a stronger budget and greater student success, Gaston said. The university needs to invest in programs serving as a big draw to prospective students.

One change being made to better suit student needs is a block scheduling system to begin in Spring 2006, which would prevent class overlap. The system will also aptly use space in the university closer to its full potential.

The system will offer more flexibility in scheduling because it will allow students to take one-, two- and three-day-a-week classes with less overlap, said Roberta Sikula-Schwalm, university registrar.

Sikula-Schwalm said she hopes the departments will abide by the block schedules so there are fewer exceptions, less trouble for students trying to plan back-to-back classes and less empty rooms at any given time. Currently, about 30 percent of classes do not meet during the standard block schedule, leaving classrooms unused, she said.

This may cause a change in the days classes are offered, giving more flexibility than the traditional Monday, Wednesday, Friday set-up, Sikula-Schwalm said.

Financial problems are affecting more than just universities. The senate discussed budget cuts in OhioLINK, the Ohio library network.

OhioLINK’s director, Tom Sanville, spoke about the monetary difficulties in state funding the network is facing. This could impact the university because Kent State is the second largest borrower of books in the state, having requested more than 60,000 publications over the past 12 months, Sanville said. This does not include electronic resources.

Contact academics reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].