Possible cuts in funding pressure NIU

By Paul Kirk

Editor’s Note: This is the second story in a series dealing with how NIU plans to deal with a possible cut in funding from the state.

Faculty members, university employees and Lowden Hall administrators have a lot in common with NIU students at the end of this semester. They’ll all be sweating out the break because of pressure put on by the state.

Dean Richard Brown, College of Business, said students can look forward to many of the same problems they saw at the beginning of the fall semester, including lack of instructors, cut classes and less faculty.

University employees will be hoping a 2 percent call back in funds by President John La Tourette will go towards a $400 pay hike to offset the rise in state employee benefits.

Barbara Henley, director of Student Affairs, said her department had to cut about $40,000 in the most recent 1 percent cut requested by the president’s office. This would estimate Student Affairs total 2 percent cut at about $80,000.

Henley said Student Affairs did not fill vacant employee positions in areas such as financial aid and two counseling positions.

More cuts would have to be made, she warned.

“All we did was to hold positions open. We’re saving money here and there cutting back on a few things,” Henley said.

Student Affairs has been offering services at the same level as last year, but if there are more cuts on the way the department will have to drop quality, she said.

The second half of these cuts are followed by a proposal from Student Affairs to build a Student Life Building. However, because of budget stipulations, money from the project can’t be transferred to the operating budget.

Student Affairs operating budget was estimated at $4,000,000 based on a 2 percent cut of $80,000.

Dean James Lankford, College of Professional Studies, said his college gave $80,000 out of a budget of about $4.9 million.

The money was lapse dollars not committed for the rest of the academic year, Lankford said.

“We’re not admitting students because of the possible recision,” he said.

Lankford said he agreed that registration problems would be caused by the cuts.

Cuts were made in every department in the college, he said. However, more cuts were made in the nursing department because of lapsed dollars, he said.

Lankford said he defined lapsed dollars as money appropriated for open student positions in a school. The School of Nursing had a smaller enrollment than anticipated.

“If we are forced to continue cuts, we’ll have to drop quality,” he said.

Lankford said he thinks his college’s quality is just as good as it has been. But, he didn’t know how long the college could maintain its current level of quality.

“The nursing program can continue to stay one of the best in the nation even with downsizing. The state gets the money and appropriates it back to the university,” Lankford said.