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Sat, Sep 20, 2014

Proposed MTSU budget cuts leave no department untouched

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MTSU President Sidney McPhee said there are “no sacred cows” when he announced the Positioning the University for the Future initiative, and he wasn’t kidding.

No corner of the school was untouched in final reports submitted last week by workgroups.

“Please remember at this point no decisions have been made on any of the items in the reports,” McPhee wrote in an e-mail to faculty.

University administration will review the recommendations, before the school’s budget is completed later in the spring.

“I am planning to conduct another series of forums in the very near future to bring the university community up-to-date on recommendations that are under serious consideration for implementation,” McPhee said.

McPhee formed the strategic work groups, as well as a steering committee to look at how to the university might eliminate waste, consolidate resources and generate new funding sources for the future, as well as look at cutting university jobs and possibly future classes offered.

McPhee said previously he expects the university will have to cut a total of $20 million to $22 million from its $345 million budget before 2010.

The cuts include an expected $10 million to $12 million decrease in state funding in the next academic year. These cuts are on top of the university losing more than $6 million in state funding over the summer with another $4 million in October.

The effects of the federal economic stimulus package on higher education are yet unknown. But Tennessee’s Finance Director Dave Goetz expects the state to receive around $350 million, specifically for higher education, to reduce tuition increases.

Highlights from the final proposals:

- Furlough all employees, including administrators, earning more than $25,000. This proposal could save an estimated $5.2 million.

- Cut temporary faculty in departments where full-time professors teach less than three classes a semester. This would result in laying off 43 temporary faculty and potentially save the university more than $2.2 million.

- Secondary recommendations include, eliminating MTSU’s Farm Lab and diary farm or restructuring the lab fee paid by students. This could save around $500,000 per year.

- Create a Media Center by merging Sidelines, WMOT, WMTS, Channel 10 and other student- and university-produced publications. This proposal could save $500,000 per year from eliminating duplicated jobs.

WMOT could still be cut completely for a savings of $450,000 per year.

Sidelines, the Alumni Record and the Record could go online only or reduce the printing frequency. This would save in printing costs, and for the Alumni Record, mailing costs.

- Reduce Walker Library’s hours of operation. By closing at 11 p.m. on weekdays and closing on Sundays, the library could cut $100,000 from MTSU’s budget.

- Other long-term recommendations include, consolidating the following departments:

Social Work, Criminal Justice, and Sociology and Anthropology.
Philosophy and Political Science.
Computer Science and Mathematical Sciences.
Split the Department of Human Sciences into different departments.

Michelle Willard can be contacted at 615-869-0816 or mwillard@murfreesboropost.com.
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