Student Affairs braces for cut

By Jami Peterson

With the hiring cold spot icing into a deep freeze and an impending budget cut threatening NIU, student services are feeling the chill.

Gov. Jim Edgar is mulling over a 3 percent budget recision which would require NIU to cut $2.5 million. In preparation, officials have declared a hiring freeze, which leaves student service departments with the inability to replace leaving staff.

Barbara Henley, vice president for Student Affairs, said if a cut is passed, student services will be hit hardest in the areas of personnel and travel.

However, she said her office is monitoring all of its expenditures, which include telecommunications and purchases, “so the staff we do have will have something to work with for the students.

In the event of a budget cut, Student Affairs would cut the remainder of its travel budget by 50 percent. This would give staff limited opportunity to attend conferences for professional development and to present conference papers, she said.

In addition, open positions will not be replaced until the hiring freeze has thawed, which could limit services to students. “As positions become open, those services could be affected,” Henley said.

Donald Buckner, associate vice president for Student Affairs, said a budget cut only would have a slight impact on residence halls, campus recreation and health services.

These areas are funded mainly through student fees. The only effect would come from a slice of the general revenue funds they receive, he said.

Although no major decisions have been made, officials are trying to obtain additional funds with the least impact on services, Buckner said. “There is no doubt it’s coming. It’s a matter of how large it’s going to be.”

Gary Scott, director for Career Planning and Placement, said one counselor is leaving next week. “This could result in some curtailment of services,” Scott said.

The amount of travel used to entice new employers and graduate assistants also will be restricted, Scott said. “I hope the budget cut doesn’t restrict the ability to continue to work with students and employers, and to get them (students) into productive work,” he said.

Student Financial Aid Director Jerry Augsburger said one of the six financial aid counselors will be leaving, which could cause delays in getting future work done.

Because the Financial Aid Office is not able to cut back on work, “we simply have to absorb this kind of increase in workload,” he said.