This archived article was written by: Devin Bybee
Carbon College was established in 1938. Twenty-six years later the name was changed to the College of Eastern Utah. Since then, CEU has played a prominent role in the Southeastern Utah community. From the school’s beginning, over 55,000 students attended classes and many have acquired degrees from various departments. A majority of these students have come from the Southeastern part of Utah.
Not only has CEU provided an educational environment, but it has also been a major contributor to the Southeastern region’s economy. It is among the region’s largest employers and is also a major sponsor of varied cultural activities and sports events, according to information that CEU provided the legislative appropriations sub committee.
Since the 2008 fiscal year, CEU has been under a grueling 17 percent budget cut that has, and will, drastically cut the school’s $19 million budget to $15.2 million by FY 2011. This arduous cut is a direct consequence of turbulent and unpredictable economic uncertainty.
What would happen if CEU was dealt another budget cut? Quite frankly, the results could be devastating. There is a proposal within the Utah State Legislature that would demand an additional mid-year budget cut of four percent for the current year and an additional five percent on-going cut for the 2011 year. If the 17 percent cut wasn’t troublesome enough, this additional cut could land a crippling blow to the operation of CEU.
In an appearance before the Legislature Higher Education Appropriations Committee, USHE commissioner William Sederburg answered a question regarding the “dire straits” and future of CEU and other colleges, after the proposed budget cut by saying, “I think that you face a very significant potential at the College of Eastern Utah,” followed by this grave perception, “As the situation now stands, I would think that their (CEU) future would be very much in doubt with those level of cuts.”
There is, however, some hope in the midst of all this gloom. While the merger with Utah State University is in the process of legislation, once merged, USU would have the option of compensating for these cuts. Although Sederberg mentioned that “if Utah State isn’t willing to pick up some of the additional costs, their [CEU] existence is really on the line in my opinion.”
The existence of CEU is a vital component of the Southeastern region in both educational and economic opportunities. But with the nation’s economy in a calamitous mess, budgets have to be reduced and spending must be limited.
Michael King, interim president portrayed a different assessment. He said, “An additional five percent to the CEU budget would have dire consequences, however the administration has prepared a plan which would address the cut without jeopardizing the future of the institution. That plan would likely eliminate further faculty and staff positions and would cut classes offered by adjunct faculty.
The five-percent proposed legislature cut is a contingency plan in case state revenues continue to fall. In the governor’s proposed budget, no cut is suggested. The legislature and the governor will spend the next 41 days hammering out the difference in the two plans to pass a state budget for next year.
All colleges and universities will be watching the state legislature closely to see if any further cuts will be made.