U faces institution-wide cuts

Kari Petrie

Calling the proposed $25 million state funding reduction a “worst case scenario,” University President Robert Bruininks mandated institution-wide budget cuts in a memo sent to college and department heads last Friday.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposed on Jan. 14 the funding reduction to address Minnesota’s $356 million budget deficit for 2003, which must be erased by June. The state is also facing an estimated $4.2 billion deficit for 2004-05.

“Given this short notice and our very limited options, it is necessary that every campus, every college and every support unit will feel the impact of these cuts,” Bruininks wrote.

These budget cuts are the second within a year due to state budget deficits.

Last February, the state rescinded nearly $24 million in University funding resulting in institutional cuts.

University Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter said 50 internal colleges and departments were asked to make cuts ranging from $19,000 to $2.5 million, including the institution’s central administration.

The amount of the individual college or department budget cut is based on its percentage of the University’s overall budget, Pfutzenreuter said.

Each department or college is responsible for determining how to meet its financial cut by Feb. 17, he said.

“The president expects (department and college leaders) to use their best judgment on where to make the cuts,” Pfutzenreuter said.

Lawrence Benveniste, dean of the Carlson School of Management, said he will not cut any student programs or services to meet the college’s $931,347 budget cut.

“If we have to find cuts, we will find them in places that won’t affect our programs – that’s the most important thing,” he said.

The Carlson School reduced its staff by 7 percent and realocated internal money this year, Benveniste said. He said he hopes those reductions will help fulfill this new round of cuts but said additional cuts will follow.

Jeanie Smith, a College of Liberal Arts spokeswoman, said the school will be reducing $3 million from its budget after cutting $2.1 million last spring.

Institute of Technology Dean H. Ted Davis said he plans on eliminating unfilled staff positions, reducing the office supply budget and cutting staff positions to address its $2.3 million cut. Davis said faculty cutbacks will mean an increase in the student to faculty member ratio.

“There’s nowhere else to cut,” Davis said, adding that IT will not cut any teaching assistant positions.

General College Dean David Taylor said he was asked to cut $240,000. Most of the money will come from departmental carry forwards – money remaining from the previous year’s budget.

Both Taylor and Davis said they recognized these cuts as possibly the first of several in the upcoming years.

“The issue isn’t so much the rescission this year, it’s the biennium,” Taylor said. “This is the lesser of the two evils. The big thing is yet to come, and that’s the one you should be concerned about.”

“This Ö cut is huge,” Davis said. “If we end up two years in a row with cuts even bigger, it’s going to be devastating.”

Kari Petrie welcomes comments at [email protected]