This archived article was written by: Devin Bybee
In the past year this nation has faced difficult and burdensome economic troubles. More than a case of political trauma, the reality of the nation’s economic devastation is felt first-hand in the lives of the American people. One example, which is directly tied to the economic crisis, is the budget cuts that are being made at the College of Eastern Utah.
In the last year’s legislative session, state legislators determined that each higher education institution in the state would have to cut their budgets by 17 percent. This meant that CEU would need to reduce its base budget by $3.2 million. However, for the current budget year, CEU was provided with federal stimulus dollars amounting to 8 percent of that 17 percent, so the net budget cut ended up being 9 percent. The total amount of money that will have to be cut at CEU is $3.2 million. At each institution, the percentage cut is the same, but the amount of money that has to be cut differs due to the cost of running that particular institution. For example, Utah State University will cut approximately $13 million this year.
With the lower enrollment rates and higher costs of running CEU it would have dealt a crushing blow to the college if the total $3.2 million was all cut in one year. Instead of making one giant cut, like other schools with large enrollment rates such as Utah Valley University did, CEU decided to break up the cuts over two years. What that means is that this fiscal school year, which began July 1, 2009, CEU will have to reduce their budget by $1.7 million. To go along with that the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2010, another $1.5 million will be cut to get to the legislatures mandated 17 percent cuts.
When asked where CEU was looking to cut a majority of the funds Mike King, CEU interim president, answered, “The cuts haven’t been finalized at this point. Anytime you start to look at that magnitude of a cut, it’s going to affect all areas of the campus. It will affect academic programs, faculty, staff, and, of course, it ultimately affects the students.” At this point in the budget cuts, it would be premature to identify the specific cuts that will be made, but King did notify that the decisions will be made by December.
Students that plan on furthering their education at CEU next year should be concerned. This year tuition rates increased by 9 percent. King suggested that it is very likely that tuition rates will also increase next year due to these budget cuts. Increases in tuition will likely happen at all colleges and universities in the state.
Also, academic programs and positions will likely be cut. Which programs and positions that will be cut are still under evaluation. The deans over the academic divisions do the research and discuss their research with the vice president. They then get together as a group with the president, and recommendations will be made to the campus community and the Board of Trustees to make the final decisions on the specific cuts.
The state is unsure how long this economic crisis will continue to affect institutions of higher education, but the state is preparing for a rough road ahead. On a more positive note King wished to praise those who are involved with CEU. “I would like to add my thanks to the college community. We had a difficult year this past year, going through budget cuts and that complicated by the fact that we had the ongoing USU discussions on and that has made it a pretty challenging year for us all. We have another challenging year ahead of us with budget cuts and finalization with what is going on with USU. I am just really appreciative of everyone’s efforts in both of those areas to make things be as good as they can be and to make sure our students are protected and that we are still able to meet their needs. Even though we are struggling right now a little bit to get through these hard times, in the long run things are going to be very good around here and I’m very optimistic about that. I think we are going to come out of this a stronger institution.”