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Regents approve $26 million in budget cuts

 by Daniel Newhauser
 published on Monday, April 28, 2008


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ASU president Michael Crow said Friday that enrollment limitations, job losses and reduced student services would be the results of proposed legislative budget cuts next year.

A suggested 10 percent, or $50 million, University budget cut for fiscal year 2009 would remove funding for 6,000 students — nearly the entire student population of the West campus, Crow said.

Crow's comments came after the Arizona Board of Regents, the Arizona university system's governing body, approved a $26-million budget cut to state universities at their meeting at UA on Friday.

The cuts, a result of reduced legislative funding, are concentrated at ASU, with about $11.9 million coming from the University. ASU will lose $6.6 million from its four campuses and $5.25 million from the UA College of Medicine–Phoenix, a partnership with ASU.

UA is picking up another $5.25 million in cuts from the medical campus, and reducing its budget at other campuses by about $5.9 million. NAU will account for about $2.1 million of cuts.

Board President Fred Boice acknowledged that all university presidents agreed on the cuts but added that, "The overwhelming consensus is that, while 2008 cuts will be painful, further cuts in 2009 will be much more devastating."

Conflicting its aim of accessibility, the University would need to limit 2009 enrollment to mitigate the cuts, Crow said, meaning that not every qualified student would be admitted to ASU, as has been the practice.

He added that, while all tenure and tenure-track faculty jobs would be safe if the legislature reduced fiscal year '09 funding, employment cuts would need to be made elsewhere.

"We're making adjustments by making some staff reduction," Crow said. But, he added, "We're concentrating budget adjustments on non-academic units."

Crow said the proposed budget cuts would also result in job vacancies in student services positions.

"The only way we can compensate [for the proposed budget cuts] is to adjust services," he said. "There's no other way."

Having fewer service employees and adjunct faculty would decrease student quality of life, Crow said, because it would result in larger class sizes and deficient service departments.

"It's a strain on teachers," he said. "It's a strain on students."

Following the regents' meeting, a meeting of the Tuition Task Force — a panel of regents, students and the University presidents — was held to discuss tuition.

Task force chair Ernest Calderón said the entire cost of a college education would be examined.

"As we proceed with the Tuition Task Force, we are looking at other costs students are facing," he said.

Student regent from NAU, Mary Venezia, said it is not enough to simply define Arizona's colleges as affordable.

"It is really important for this task force to define affordability so then we can agree on what is affordable," she said.

The panel viewed presentations from experts about the present state of Arizona's economy and Arizona universities' status relative to other national universities' tuitions.

Calderón said he hopes the task force can produce some recommendations for the regents.

"We fully anticipate that this will be an action item on the agenda come June," he said.

Reach the reporter at: daniel.newhauser@asu.edu.




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