Budget cut blues felt campus wide

Liz Kacher, Staff Writer

President Kennedy and the Executive Council have made more progress on finalizing budget plans since the time Governor Burgum proposed further cuts to higher education across the state of North Dakota.

Back in January, Governor Burgum recommended $31 million be cut in regards to higher education during the impending 2017-19 cycle. Subsequently, universities across the state of North Dakota have been given the task to propose budget cuts to comply with what he has suggested — UND included.

All areas of campus — including academics, athletics and support areas will be affected by the proposed cuts. President Kennedy and the Executive Council intend on creating an efficient plan that prioritizes certain programs and promotes future growth for the university as a whole.

I am worried about my academic opportunities because I’m not ready to graduate yet. I am worried about professional programs, like the law school, since we have the only law school in the state.

— Antonia Kalal, UND Senior

College Deans were faced with the task of creating a budget plan that would detail how they could comply with potential funding cuts of 4, 8 and 12 percent earlier this year. The proposed numbers indicate the cuts were to be distributed in various amounts to colleges at those specific levels.

Last Thursday, a UND news release detailed that the Executive Council did not “find conclusive evidence to vary the budget reductions at this time.” Consequently, each academic college has the same task of finalizing a plan for a budget reduction of 12 percent. Support units also face budget reduction targets of 12 percent.

Some students see the upcoming budget cuts as damaging not only their own future but the future of the University as a whole. Senior Erika Gallaway spoke with The Dakota Student about her concerns about the impending budget cuts.

“I fear the academic programming across the university is being greatly endangered,” Gallaway said.  “I fear that students and faculty will both feel it in the future.”

Senior Antonia Kalal also discussed her concerns about the budget cuts in regards to her academic future with The Dakota Student.

“I am worried about my academic opportunities because I’m not ready to graduate yet,” Kalal said. “I am worried about professional programs, like the law school, since we have the only law school in the state.”

A petition on change.org was created to protest the administrative decisions about budget cuts deemed President Kennedy as “unqualified and unfit” to represent UND.

The petition details how Kennedy’s administration has “kept the students in the dark about their plans to gut our liberal arts programs.” @MyUNDnotYours has grown traction on both Facebook and Twitter urging students to resist cuts against liberal arts.

The School for Medicine and Health Sciences, which has a separate budget appropriated by the State Legislature, was given a 10 percent budget reduction target. The proposed budget plan that complies with the 10 percent cut has yet to be announced.

Despite the decision of the Intercollegiate Athletic Committee back in October to keep all 20 sports sponsored by UND, Athletics has been asked to now find ways to reduce its budget by $1.3 million. Athletics has yet to provide a draft that will comply with the suggested cuts.

However, the budget cuts raise a new set of questions about UND’s recent move to the Summit League. Last month, UND announced its’ intentions to leave the Big Sky Conference to join the Summit League in the 2018-19 season.

Members of the Summit League are required to pay the league a penalty amount of $150,000 for each Summit-sponsored program that is eliminated during the first eight years of membership. Being that UND won’t enter the Summit League until the 2018-19, it is uncertain whether or not this will affect UND’s future.

Academics, SMHS, Athletics and Support are asked to report draft plans to the Executive Council by Monday, March 6. If something changes about expected funding during the upcoming weeks, the targeted numbers may change.

A campus forum will be held weekly to address concerns by the campus community in regards to budget cuts. The first forum was held on Wednesday, Feb. 22 from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Education Building.

The Dakota Student will continue to report on budget-related issues in the upcoming weeks as new information becomes available.

Liz Kacher is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]