Students may find themselves facing many new changes when the fall semester of 2010 begins in August thanks to severe budget cuts for the CU system. The cuts may lead to increasing class size and the removal of some courses altogether.
According to an e-mail sent out by Chancellor Philip DiStefano, the University of Colorado system has lost 58 percent of its state funding since July 2009.
As a result of this, CU Boulder has had to enact several budget balancing measures, including $12.9 million worth of budget cuts for the fiscal year 2009-2010 and an additional $9.4 million that will become effective on July 1 of this year. This makes for a total of $22.3 million in budget cuts.
DiStefano said in his e-mail that, after the new budget balancing measures take effect, 135 faculty and staff positions will have been eliminated over the past two years. Of these positions, 93 are currently unfilled.
Associate Vice President of University Relations Ken McConnellogue said the need for these budget cuts stems from the decline of the economy.
“The state is not collecting as much revenue, and higher education is one of the few discretionary parts of state budget,” McConnellogue said.
He also said the stimulus money the university has been receiving is due to go away next year.
“That’s why we’re making the cuts we’re making, because when stimulus money goes away, we don’t want to all of a sudden have a big hole to fill,” McConnellogue said.
The university, he said, tried to avoid implementing budget cuts that would greatly impact students and academic programs at CU, but, despite these efforts, students will see some effects.
“One of the guiding principles with the cuts is we tried as much as possible to keep them away from academic enterprises,” McConnellogue said. “When you make these kinds of cuts, there’s no way around affecting quality in the student experience. We tried to minimize that, certainly, but it will have an effect.”
University Spokesperson Bronson Hilliard said some changes students could see may include an increase in core curriculum class size and a possible decrease in offered courses. He said the administration does not yet have a clear picture of the degree of these changes.
“We don’t have a precise idea yet of what the impact of this will be because we don’t know how big our freshmen class is going to be next year, and we don’t know how many returning students we’re going to have yet,” Hilliard said.
He said some other effects the CU community might see are smaller operating budgets for professors and instructors. This, he said, will mean less money to support instructional activities, small equipment purchases and travel expenses.
Hilliard said the university is taking measures to create efficiencies. These measures, such as reorganizing the Arts and Sciences curriculum and exploring ways to combine ATLAS with the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, are still in progress.
While several programs will lose fulltime employees with these cuts, Hilliard said he is not aware of any programs that are being completely eliminated.
In DiStefano’s e-mail, he outlined the university’s approach to “revenue enhancements, operating efficiencies and strategic expense reductions.” One specific measure, he wrote, will be to get rid of Indonesian language courses.
Nick Williams, a 24-year-old graduate student majoring in linguistics, and Jan Goerzen, a 20-year-old sophomore majoring in international affairs, said this announcement came as a surprise to them—as students taking Indonesian courses—as well as to their classmates and their professor, Margaretha Sudarsih.
Goerzen said any cuts to the program will greatly affect her, as she was planning to use Indonesian to fulfill the language requirement for her major. She said she chose CU over other schools because it offered Indonesian.
As of right now, Goerzen said it looks as though the university will still be offering these courses in the fall, but she doesn’t know if she’ll eventually have to make other arrangements.
“I would probably consider transferring to a school that could give me the third and fourth years in the Indonesian language if I didn’t have a secure job here next year,” Goerzen said.
Williams said he was disappointed in the lack of communication within the university because of the way everyone in the Indonesian program found out about the possible change and the remaining vagueness of the situation.
It’s important, he said, for people to know what’s going on. He still hasn’t heard a formal announcement from the university about the future of the program.
Alexis Smith, UCSG diversity director and a 24-year-old senior journalism major, said UCSG hasn’t received any definitive word on what the budgets might be.
“I think students are going to have to be really wary of academic programs—like maybe some of the smaller programs that could be in danger of being cut,” Smith said.
She said students might have to fight for advocacy services on campus—programs their student fee dollars go to pay for anyway because the university receives so little state funding.
“I think that students, by and large, are going to see that there could be some pressure for their student fee dollars to be picking up slack in areas where state dollars should be working,” Smith said.
She said students are presently in a good place because student government fought hard this year to keep fees down. She said she thinks the biggest increase in student spending will occur in the cost of tuition.
“Student government had a really good year budget-wise, but tuition is out of our hands,” Smith said. “At the end of the day, the place where students get hit the hardest is always tuition.”
McConnellogue said that, at CU, the total cost to educate a student is more than about $15,000. If the average student is paying $7,000 in tuition and fees, and the state is only providing about $1,800, then the university is not paying for the cost of instruction. The difference, he said, is largely made up by out-of-state students’ tuition.
McConnellogue also said there is a possibility for cuts within the realm of student employment on campus. In his office no student positions have been terminated, but they have seen a cut in hours.
Hilliard said student employment cuts might happen in some areas, but that he doesn’t have the facts or the figures right now to show where they could occur or how many there would be.
“It’s certainly possible that there might be fewer hourly jobs for students,” Hilliard said. “I think we’ll know more the closer we get to July 1st in terms of what the impact will be on student employment for next year.”
For a more comprehensive look at CU’s budget plan, visit www.cu.edu.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Kaely Moore at Kaely.email@example.com.