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The Antelope

The Antelope

Destructive cuts far-reaching, will likely also raise tuition

Destructive cuts far-reaching, will likely also raise tuition
Corbey R. Dorsey

Difficult decisions across the board include whole athletic programs, Chancellor says
By: Braydon Conell

Chancellor Doug Kristensen opened a budget forum meeting Monday, Feb. 12 to a solemn crowd of UNK faculty, staff and community members saying “Today is a difficult day.” This forum came in response to the State of Nebraska’s budget shortfall for the 2017-2019 biennium budget.

Back on Jan. 10, Gov. Pete Ricketts hosted an executive budget presentation to outline mid-biennium adjustments. During the presentation, Gov. Ricketts outlined that the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board (NEFAB) reduced revenue forecasts for the 2017-2019 biennium by a combined $223.9 million: $100.4 million for fiscal year 2017-2018 and $123.5 million for fiscal year 2018-2019. Overall, this would result in a $173 million projected budget gap.

The effects of the state budget shortfalls are far-reaching but greatly affect the Nebraska University System (NU). UNK alone is facing a $3.4 million budget gap as a result of decreased state appropriations, declining credit hour production and scheduled salary and benefit increases. The governor’s budget proposal, known in the Legislature as Agency 51, calls for a massive cut across the whole university system.

Kristensen said “It will be a two percent reduction in the third quarter (the current quarter) and another four percent base cut if the governor’s proposal passes.”

A base cut means that the University will need to cut an additional four percent every year under the proposal. These percentage cuts for UNK would result in roughly $11 million and an additional $23 million starting in summer 2018. Kristensen further emphasized that the system is roughly 13 percent of the state budget but is taking a third of the cut, and the cuts are disproportionate and, frankly, they are not fair.

Kristensen announced during the forum on Monday what he referred to as “strategic cutting.” Not all groups will be taking the same proportion of the cut; however, this is needed to maintain the academic quality and affordability at UNK.

Yet, these cuts are unprecedented and carry a negative impact on faculty, staff and students despite the cut recommendations being a collaborative effort across campus. The recommendations presented by Kristensen total $3.67 million and affect administration and support staff, faculty, operations personnel and athletics.

The biggest impact from these cuts comes from the athletics and faculty cuts. The faculty budget will be reduced by $1,551,872, eliminating 16 faculty positions. All four colleges are facing lost positions, as follows:

Business and Technology: one associate professor and one assistant professor.

Education: one senior lecturer.

Fine Arts and Humanities: three professors, one associate professor, and one lecturer.

Natural and Social Sciences: three professors and four assistant professors.

Although all positions are not currently linked with an individual, as they have been identified as vacant positions, these losses will affect students through lost class opportunity and a potentially lower student-faculty ratio.

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