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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/mssa/news/html/Budget_cuts.html

Budget cuts will hurt

Administration warns MSSA of grim outlook

by Dannielle Higginbotham

Issue date: 02/05/09 Section: Campus News
Budget cuts at Minnesota State will have a negative impact and will be noticeable, administration told the Minnesota State Student Association Wednesday.

Vice President of Finance and Administration Rick Straka, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Scott Olson and Vice President of Student Affairs Patricia Swatfager-Haney presented their take on the budget situation, which is still ambiguous.

Some things are certain, though. Olson said teaching and graduate assistants would definitely be cut, as would class sections. Under a 3 percent budget cut, which looks like a best-case scenario, 250 class sections would be cut.

Olson admitted this would provide difficulties for students.

"It'll be tighter," he said. "It'll be tougher to get the sections you want at the time you want."

Straka said larger class sizes are also likely.

"I think that's a safe assumption," he said.

But Olson, Straka and Swatfager-Haney all stressed they were doing their best to ease the pain for students, especially in terms of the number of classes offered.

"We're doing everything we can to restore those sections," Olson noted.

Although class sizes face some restrictions because of facility sizes, Straka said the administration is looking at holding more classes at Stadium Theaters as well as converting empty space into classrooms and making some classrooms more efficient. He also said the university needs to make sure it utilizes the rooms it does have every day, and hinted that classrooms may start having to be used on Saturdays as well.

Plans for 3 percent budget cuts also include salary reductions. Plans for 6 and 10-percent reductions include cuts in positions and functions in departments.

While Swatfager-Haney said MSU is trying not to affect students too much, she also indicated there is a limit to what the administration can do.

"We're trying to preserve the core functions and services for students," she said of MSU's current situation.

Straka noted 48 states are facing budget problems right now.

"The economy has shut off unlike it has ever done since the Great Depression," he said, adding that tax revenues have "absolutely plummeted."

"This is the first time we'll have a real decline in state revenues in decades," he said. "Long term, hopefully the state budget will look a little better but short term, it's tough."

Although the state has already unallotted $1.5 million from MSU this year, Straka said he expects more money to be taken back, and that MSU could be facing up to a $7 million decrease in state funds next year.

In other senate news:

Speaker Brett Carpenter said he is still investigating whether there was fraternity involvement in the Jan. 16 party where 133 people, including 111 MSU students, were arrested or cited for alcohol-related violations.

"I'm looking for people who were at the party that are willing to talk," Carpenter said.

The Senate elected two new senators. Bill Boegeman became the new senator for the College of Education and Kyle Woitas became the new representative for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Boegeman said he hopes to increase volunteer opportunities in the Mankato area for education majors.

"Right now the university has a partnership with St. James, but that is 45 minutes away," he said.

Boegman said volunteering opportunities within the city would be a win-win situation.

"Both the university and public schools [in Mankato] would benefit at no cost," he said.

Woitas said one of his main concerns within the MSU community is the social host ordinance, which he called heavy-handed and ineffective.

The MSSA still needs senators for the College of Business, Gage A and Undeclared seats.

Dannie Higginbotham is a Reporter staff writer