High Education Leaders Hope For Smaller Budget Cuts This YearBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 20 Jan 2011 07:43am |
Leaders from Mississippi's colleges and universities are lobbying to avoid state budget cuts....but they are also preparing in case the budget axe falls again. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports.
Mississippi's eight Colleges and Universities have watched their state support fall to the point where it is now below the year 2000 funding level. School leaders met with lawmakers this week to plead for state funding. Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds expects the legislature to cut their funding again.
"We are prepared to take additional cuts as we know we will. We are doing everything possible to try to minimize those cuts. So we are concerned, but you know it is what it is and we just have to deal with it," Bounds said.
Dr. Bounds says Higher education has lost 13 percent in state funding over the past several years. This has resulted in bigger classes, fewer choices, and faculty and staff reductions. The burden has also fallen on students in the form of higher tuition--a 5-percent tuition hike has been approved for this year and next.
John Hilpert, president of Delta State University, says they have been protecting students as much as they can.
"There does come a point where cuts are serious cuts and they affect quality. We just feel a great deal of relief in some cases that we may not have to make the depth of cut that we had expected to make," Hilpert said.
There might be a silver lining for 10 programs and 15 faculty positions at the University of Southern Mississippi that were originally slated to be cut for next fall. However, USM President Martha Saunders says she's been preparing for the worst.
"Maybe the budget cuts won't be quite so bad. So we are being very cautious but we are also optimistic that perhaps we won't have to suffer as many cuts as possible," Saunders said.
As legislators begin to craft the Fiscal year 2012, budget, and early projections show higher education taking another three percent cut.
*Photo from the IHL website.
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