Education budget undergoes cut

By Brian Slupski

The state legislature voted to cut 3 percent from the higher education budget Tuesday night, but NIU colleges have already mapped out cuts.

NIU Provost Kendall Baker said he has talked to each department chair and targets for the cuts have been established.

He said academics will take about 40 percent of the $2.5 million cut. However, classes for the spring and summer semester will not be effected.

Baker said this slash combined with one which took place last July will result in an overall $1 million cut in academics this year.

“Even with the cut, we have been able to do what we said we wanted to do—we have protected our instructional programs,” Baker said.

The money for the cuts will be taken from NIU’s designated equipment and travel funds, Baker said. NIU is “not happy about the cuts,” he added, but these are areas where money can be found this late in the fiscal year.

Baker said he tried to be as “equitable as possible” when making the cuts. He said he has been very pleased by the reaction of the various departments of the university and their faculty.

Donald Grush, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said cuts are going to be made in four areas. The cuts primarily impact research, Grush said, while instruction has been spared.

“We have shielded the teaching aspect of education, which is good for students now,” Grush said. “But cutting research may be detrimental to the students of the future.”

Without proper and consistent funding for research, Grush said the production of new knowledge might not take place which could be harmful to students in the long run.

Besides the equipment and travel funds, other areas which will be chopped include the areas of commodities and contracts.

Commodities include items like paper and blue books for classes, while contracts are paying money outside the university for services rendered.

The travel funds cut will force faculty to pay their own way when they travel to present their research papers. If they are unable to pay their own way, “then the world is deprived of their creation,” Grush said.

Scientific equipment, which directly impacts research, also will have to be cut, Grush said.

He said in the short term, sacrificing research for instructional purpose might seem wise. But in the long run, it might be depriving thousands of people new knowledge, he said.

Grush said the university’s financial woes won’t go away because NIU has too many students for its resources. Unless NIU is funded on a per capita basis (funding based on the number of students enrolled,) enrollment will have to be reduced, he added.

College of Business Dean Richard Brown said if the present budget package is defeated and education is asked to take a bigger cut than $2.5 million, then “summer school session would be in jeopardy,” Brown said.

He said with the freeze on equipment, faculty will have to use the computers in the labs to prepare for classes. This could make it difficult for faculty to attain access to a computer because the labs are crowded.