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University cuts $5.8 million from budget

Dan Sayles
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Low enrollment, compounded by the lagging economy, has required the University of La Verne to cut its 2009-2010 budget by $5.8 million.

Cuts for this academic year encompass numerous departments and programs, including maintenance which is cleaning and gardening less often – among other cuts that students and faculty hope will not diminish the quality of education.

University President Stephen Morgan said one of the reasons for the steep budget cuts was high expenditures last year.

“Last year, we did not meet expectations,” Morgan said. “We had more expenditures than we had anticipated.”

Morgan has also made it clear that the University will be working hard to avoid cuts in the future.

“We will be making a real push for enrollment,” Morgan said.

“We have to reassess our priorities, (and) see what is necessary.” said Robert Neher, professor of biology. “With careful use of lab money and what the University gives us, we will be in good shape.”

The budget cuts also affect the hiring of faculty and staff across the board, while numerous open positions have been frozen.

Neher said new Dean of Arts and Sciences Jonathan Reed is doing the best he can with limited resources.

“The new dean is working well with our departments and others to get what they need,” Neher said.

“Overall, it’s tightening of the budget without hurting the curriculum,” Reed said. “We are trying to have every department affected slightly, and not just a few departments affected greatly.”

Departments with expensive equipment, including communications, the natural sciences, and theatre, also need to be careful with their equipment.

“We’re going to have to hope that nothing breaks,” Reed said. “Otherwise, we might be in trouble.”

While not actively fundraising, Reed said that the college has “been in conversation with a variety of potential donors. For this fiscal year, we have received thousands of dollars from donations.”

Most of the money given to the college has been earmarked for scholarships and student travel.

“We have an annual fund that raises between $4-5 million each year,” Morgan said. “We have also been moving past having fundraiser events, and have focused more on online solicitation, such as e-mail, and Facebook… in the end, you gain more donations for the work you put in.”

Most of the donations have been put into Financial Aid, and given as grants to students based on their scholarships and financial needs, Morgan said.

The College of Business and Public Management also suffered losses from the budget cuts.

According to Dean of the College of Business, Ibrahim Helou, the college has lost a faculty position, an administrative professional position, and a classified position.

“We were able to re-arrange the load and make up for the two lost positions at the expense of the existing staff, and add responsibilities,” Helou said. “(And) we were able to keep the students’ budget intact.”

Ultimately, it is the part-time faculty who will bear the brunt of the budget cuts, Reed said.

Classes taught by part-timers have been reduced across the University.

“We have not let go of any part-time staff member,” Morgan said, explaining that while there was no letting go of part-time faculty, the amount of classes that they were able to teach were reduced as a result of the budget cuts.

“I think we have seen the last of the budget cuts,” Reed said. “We’ve bottomed out.”

Reed and Morgan remain confident that the students should feel little, if at all, the effects of the budget cut. Morgan also mentioned plans in the future that would cut down on maintenance and still be functional, such as changing the football field from natural grass to a more synthetic turf.

“I don’t think that students felt the brunt of it,” Reed continued.

Dan Sayles can be reached at dan.sayles@laverne.edu.

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