Upcoming budget cuts at UND

Liz Kacher, Staff Writer

The impending budget cuts have put President Kennedy and the administration in a difficult situation when making decisions about UND’s future. This process began after Governor Doug Burgum presented legislators with a proposal that recommended additional cuts beyond those proposed by former Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

Burgum’s suggestions were announced on Monday, Jan. 16, the eighth day of the current legislative cycle. His proposal included a $13.3 billion total budget in the 2017-19 cycle. His recommendation was about $168 million less than what former Gov. Jack Dalrymple proposed in his final month of governorship.

In regards to higher education, Burgum’s budget proposes a $31 million cut in 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.

A blog post released by President Kennedy and his Executive Council Tuesday, Jan. 31, approximate budget adjustments have been announced. An approximate $16 million per year will be required to be cut to accommodate the anticipated cuts in state funding and tuition revenue.

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

While definitive budget plans have not yet been announced, the blog post states, “We will explore structural realignments that improve our ability to be more effective and/or efficient.”

Thus, they also intend on providing “an estimated $7 million for investments in strategic priorities. On average, this will require a 14 percent reduction in appropriated budget levels.”

Undergraduate studies are not alone in facing budget cuts, as some graduate programs will be affected as well. UND College of Arts and Sciences Dean Debbie Storrs told the Dakota Student that the graduate program for sociology is one of those programs that will be affected, as of the current time.

“Based upon a college review of all graduate programs conducted this fall, we will no longer provide graduate teaching assistantships or tuition waivers for future sociology graduate students,” Storrs said. “We have not discontinued or suspended the graduate program in sociology.  Future students can apply and, if accepted, attend the graduate program but will not get any tuition waived.”

The blog post provided emphasizes the uncertainty surrounding the impending cuts, however the President and the Executive Council stresses they will be clear about the process and how they intend to move forward.

“To ensure that we are gaining the input of the campus community, we will be regular attendees at University, Staff and Students Senates and the provost will be meeting regularly with the University Senate’s Budget Committee.”

The scope of the cuts made across the university will be clarified today, according to the blog post by Kennedy and the Executive Council. They intend to complete necessary budget adjustments by the time the current North Dakota Legislative session adjourns Friday, Apr. 28.

The post directs those who have topics they would like to be further addressed to email [email protected]. The administration is dedicated to hearing concerns from the campus community about budget issues.

As the projection of the future budget cuts becomes clearer, The Dakota Student will continue to provide updates to the campus community.

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