State Colleges Looking in Nooks and Crannies for Cuts

Following Governor Mitch Daniels’ latest round of budget cuts – $150 million statewide – state-funded universities are rushing to find money they can afford to cut.  However, even though the problem is the same for each school, the solutions are highly tailored.

After learning that Indiana University had to cut almost $59 million from its budget, IU President Michael McRobbie reacted by asking all eight campuses to formulate their own cost-cutting plans.  Although that allows for flexibility, IU spokesman Larry MacIntyre said McRobbie did lay out guidelines for the chancellors.

“He said that they can’t just tap reserves, that they’re going to actually have to find a way to cut spending,” MacIntyre said.

Speaking on WFIU’s Noon Edition just after the budget cuts were announced, McRobbie explained final details will be worked out in a series of budget conferences over the next six weeks.  McRobbie said he wants individual units to decide what their budget priorities are — but that any cost-cutting measure will be considered – possibly including layoffs.

In contrast, Indiana State University Spokeswoman Tara Singer said President Daniel Bradley has an announced a plan with concrete numbers: the certain elimination of between eighty and one-hundred positions at the school’s Terre Haute campus.

“These will be recommend by the various departments,” Singer said.”  “And final decisions will be made by the time of the budget presentation to our next trustees’ meeting on February 19th.”

Charged with cutting about $10.5 million from their budget in the next 18 months, Singer nonetheless insists university administrators are working to soften the blow to personnel.

“Part of our proposal is to provide some incentives to individuals who might be eligible for early retirement.  The final details of that package are being developed.”

Ivy Tech Community College campuses across the state are facing a different situation.  Spokesman Jeff Fanter explained the state hasn’t cut any money from the community college’s budget.

However, Ivy Tech is no longer receiving an $11 million increase in appropriations it was slated to receive under the state funding model.  Paired with Ivy Tech’s fast-growing student body, Fanter said lost funding equates to a cut.

“So we’ve been growing at a rate of double digit percentages,” Fanter said.  “But we haven’t been receiving that funding for that growth and that has caused us not to receive the dollars that we expected to see with that growth that we’ve had.”

Fanter said Ivy Tech officials are finding savings by combining services such as going to one statewide bookstore, a single, statewide computer contract with Dell, as well as a statewide call fulfillment center.

As varied as each school’s approach is, one common theme exists: all officials assert that the academics will not get the axe from state budget cuts.

Arianna Prothero

Arianna Prothero started at WFIU as a reporter in May of 2008. She is now the Interim Assistant Radio News Director and, along with her reporting duties, produces WFIU’s Noon Edition and anchors All Things Considered on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Arianna holds her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in Political Science with a minor in Russian and Eastern European Studies.

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