Regents discuss cuts

Shawntaye Hopkins

Questions concerning the fate of policies, jobs and programs on the Hill will be answered in the next few weeks.

President Gary Ransdell will present Western’s plan for cutting its budget by $5.6 million to the Board of Regents at a called meeting in two to three weeks.

Western is very close to making decisions about how cuts will be made, Ransdell said during the Board of Regents meeting on Friday.

He also expressed more confidence in not only the future of higher education, but also in Western’s ability to make the cuts.

“I have now a much better feel of what won’t be affected by it,” he said.

Academic majors and minors will not be affected by cuts, Ransdell said. Tuition will also not be increased to meet the cuts.

There are a number of policy matters that affect personnel and the way Western manages the budget that could change in order to reduce spending, Ransdell said.

There may be some policy changes that require the board’s approval, Ransdell said. But the entire plan will probably not require formal approval.

Ransdell said he has met with Gov. Ernie Fletcher and members of the Fletcher administration on several occasions.

“I feel good about where we’re headed as a result of these interactions,” he said.

Ransdell said Western will probably not see any increased funding in the 2004-05 fiscal year’s budget, but he is hopeful that there will be no further cuts.

Fletcher will present his budget at 7 p.m. today to the General Assembly in Frankfort.

Faculty Regent Robert Dietle said his attitude toward the cuts has not changed.

He said he is still very concerned about the budget reductions and will continue to be until he sees detailed plans for meeting the cuts.

The cuts are going to be painful to Western and other state universities, Dietle said.

John Bradley, president of the Student Government Association, agreed.

But he said he is glad majors and minors won’t be affected.

“I was expecting some major problematic cuts that would affect students,” Bradley said. “But it looks like it’s not going to hurt students as much as I thought it would.”

Fletcher called for a $23 million cut in higher education last month, which meant $3.2 million for Western.

State university presidents learned of another $45 million cut on Jan. 7 in a meeting with staff of the Council on Post-Secondary Education.

Fletcher reduced the cut to $41 million on Jan. 17. For Western, the cut will mean $2.3 million.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]