SMSU Clubs and Organizations Safe Amidst Budget Issues: Minor Programs/Degrees to Face Cuts and Reductions Due to Projected $3.2 Million Deficit

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In the face of a projected $3.2 million budget deficit at Southwest Minnesota State University, campus administrators attempt to negotiate one of the highest deficits in its history.

Questions about program, position and clubs/organization cuts and reductions arose as news of the budget deficit broke, causing concern for students, faculty and staff across campus. Following several meet and confers and forums regarding the SMSU’s recent budget crisis, several of these questions were answered.

Though program cuts were a concern throughout campus, questions arose about the possibility of clubs and organizations taking a hit.

Scott Ewing, assistant director of student activities, states that student activities are stable. Since student activities are funded by a separate budget, the concern for reductions or cuts isn’t as major. However, the main concern for clubs and organizations is the possibility of position cuts as some faculty members are also club advisors.

Though student activities have a separate budget from the campus’ general fund, enrollment on campus is of importance for both.

“Those people taking seated classes [at SMSU] pay a student activity fee,” Ewing said.

Just as more students attending SMSU help the university, it also helps clubs and organizations with the fee directed towards student activities.

As for programs and positions, the possibility of major cuts was a high concern for all at SMSU.

Following an All University Meeting Feb. 7, several groups of faculty, staff and students separated to come up with ideas to save programs. Though relaxed and professional, a serious atmosphere settled over the room as these groups gathered to consider solutions to prevent program and position cuts and save money.

Each group presented a list of five plausible solutions related specifically to their topic, helping and working with administrators in moving towards the next step in dealing with the budget crisis.

Both the faculty and administrators held meet and confers to determine which programs would take cuts or reductions. A final meet and confer held Feb. 19 determined which programs would face this. Those include the Geology minor, the Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry (though the Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry will still be offered), the French and Spanish minors (though lower level courses will still be offered) and the previously suspended Spanish major/K-12 teaching endorsement.

Though these programs minors/majors will no longer be offered, President Connie Gores assured students who are currently working towards these degrees that they will work with them so that they can complete those degrees. Gores also shared that no programs will be discontinued or reduced beyond the list above.

Concerns among students were shared with administrators Feb. 21 at the Student Forum. Among them were questions about the reductions in world languages and how that will affect the liberal arts status of SMSU.

Interim Dean of Arts, Letters and Sciences, Jan Loft, shares that enrollment in this is a concern across the board in these programs (at Mankato, St. Cloud, Bemidji, SMSU) and that faculty members are working together to determine a solution and explore options.

The next step in the process includes Board Early Separation Incentives, which will be offered to faculty who are eligible for it. These incentives will be offered to a limited number of programs and departments and those eligible will receive a notification by mail. These employees will have until March 17 to make a decision. Further steps will be taken after that deadline where possible retrenchment (eliminating positions), if needed, will be discussed.

“This is a long and ongoing process and there are many steps. We want to work together…we want to be collaborative in reaching solutions,” Gores said.

For more information regarding the school’s budget, questions and solutions about the deficit, program discontinuance and the BESI Plan, an M-drive is available on lab computers on campus.
All information from the M-drive is also available at the Circulation Desk located in the McFarland Library open from 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and 2-11 p.m. Sundays. Special holiday hours are listed at http://www.smsu.edu/library/?id=1128.

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