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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Deans struggle to trim school budgets

    While the start of the semester puts ample amounts of strain on students, faculty and staff, department heads are facing an additional source of stress: planning budget cuts for 2009.

    The Arizona Legislature voted in July to reduce the amount of funding to the Arizona university system by $50 million for the fiscal year of 2009. The Arizona Board of Regents assigned $19.65 million of that cut to the UA, with Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University also taking cuts proportional to the amount of funding they receive from the state’s general fund.

    “”The budget cuts will be split across the departments and colleges at the university,”” said Jim Florian, UA budget director.

    Florian said non-academic departments will be cutting their budget by a uniform five percent, while the amount cut from academic departments will vary.

    While departments are currently meeting with their staff and discussing what parts of the budget will be cut, the exact effects of the cuts will not be known until October or November.

    “”Right now, the dean of the College of Medicine is meeting with the staff and faculty to discuss what they think should be cut,”” said George Humphrey, the assistant vice president of the Office of Public Affairs for Health Sciences. “”Whatever happens, it’s going to be a collaborative effort.””

    Humphrey said those discussions would be taking place within the coming weeks.

    “”If there’s less faculty, then less students can get into (their programs), so I think that would probably be the worst area for the cuts to go to,”” said pre-pharmacy freshman Ryan Peiffer.

    Some students are worried that in addition to affecting the quality of the departments, the budget cuts could lead to the administration deciding to increase tuition again.

    “”I think there’s always a possibility that the university could raise tuition,”” said undeclared freshman Nathan Tyson. “”I expect it to go up, but budget cuts could affect that decision. They could also raise dorm rates or do a lot of other things.””

    Despite concerns, university officials say the decision to raise tuition is based on several complex factors and not just budget cuts.

    “”Lots of things, including increased utility costs, affect tuition rates,”” Florian said. “”It’s not as simple as saying because there will be budget cuts, tuition will definitely go up.””

    Florian also noted that the $170 million awarded to the UA for facilities construction and management was funded primarily by the state lottery, while the budget cuts came out of the state’s general fund.

    “”You can’t really say the legislature gave a lot of money to design and construction and took money away from other departments, because the money came from different sources,”” said Florian.

    Officials say they plan to inform the public as more details about the specific areas that will be cut within each department and college are confirmed.

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