April 2, 2020

Budget cuts reign high on CEU’s priorities

Over the past several months higher education budget cuts have been the top priority on the faculty and staff agenda at The College of Eastern Utah.

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Over the past several months higher education budget cuts have been the top priority on the faculty and staff agenda at The College of Eastern Utah.
At this time a year ago, the big issue on everyone’s mind was the proposed merger between CEU and Utah State University. The merger never happened and it has some staff relieved due to the current status of jobs that may be cut from the Logan-based institution. Earlier this month, The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Utah State University is facing a budget cut of nearly $30 million and possible job cuts of up to 660 positions during the upcoming legislative session.
In conversations among faculty and staff groups, a recurring theme appears in regard to the aborted merger: the extent to which job losses and program cuts may have very well been focused on the Price campus, due mainly to the fact that CEU is designed as a two-year community college and not central to USU’s role as a research university.
“It’s unlikely that USU would, or even could, have forced the cuts at CEU if we were part of them,” said Kevin Walthers, CEU’s vice president for finance and administration. “College leaders across the state have taken a very serious approach to this – an approach that stresses fairness and preserving core missions. Besides, our entire budget is less than two-thirds of what they anticipate having to cut in Logan.”
While USU contends with its cuts, CEU’s share of the pain is no less difficult. College administration is looking to find as much as $1.4 million before the end of the fiscal year on June 30. “The 1.4 (million dollars) is on top of $763,000 that was cut in September. That’s a big number to get to in less than half a year,” Walthers said.
The first round of cuts were managed by the Price campus, but the next round will see cuts at the CEU Museum and on the San Juan Campus.
“We originally thought we could absorb the cuts on the Price campus, but that was before the revenue estimates required further cuts,” said CEU President Mike King.
The current situation has stemmed from a variety of negative economic trends and overestimations of state budget allocation. King noted that the situation is difficult, but that there may be a silver lining that allows CEU to restructure in a way that prepares it for the future.
The college is bracing for the worst-case scenario and hoping that things improve over the next few weeks. “We’ve been told that the Legislature wants to start by analyzing what it would take to balance the budget with cuts only. We’re already seeing signs that both the house and senate recognize the need to tap the rainy day fund and use bonding instead of cash to pay for roads,” said President King
For CEU students, faculty and staff who want to stay on top of what is going on, hearings for higher education budgets can be heard online Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 5 p.m. by going to the legislature’s home page: le.utah.gov and clicking on the Higher Education Appropriation Committee page.

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