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Budget shortfall topic at trustee meeting

Thanks to careful management, Miami will survive this year’s cuts in state subsidy without major harm to student services or a midyear tuition hike, President James Garland told trustees Friday (Dec. 7).

However, additional subsidy cuts this fiscal year are possible and the university is also facing "almost certain reductions" in state funding next year, warned Garland.

Although the 6 percent cut or $7.5 million loss in state subsidy so far this year is significant, it represents only about 3 percent of the academic portion of Miami’s budget.

"That percentage is so low because of the history of low state support of higher education in Ohio," he said. As a result, students and their families have had to pay more and more of college costs.

Richard Norman, vice president for finance and business services and treasurer, explained that while Miami is dealing with this year’s reductions partially through the use of one-time savings, it "is very clear that these cuts are permanent" and will affect the base budget going into the next biennium.

Roger Howe, chair of Miami’s board of trustees, suggested one strategy for dealing with the long-term impact of state funding policies.

"If Ohio cannot or will not provide reasonable subsidy to higher education then — at the least — the state must eliminate unreasonable and wasteful mandates that squander students’ tuition," he said.

Miami could save up to $3 million a year if mandates regarding prevailing wage and prime contractors were repealed, said Howe, noting that Miami must pay local painting contractors $33.50 an hour rather than the going rate of $17.60 an hour.

In other action, trustees:

• Heard a report from Judith Sessions, dean of libraries, about a recently completed benchmarking study involving 43 of the top university libraries in the nation. Miami ranked first in the nation in overall satisfaction with services. Students and faculty were surveyed for the study.

• Approved renaming the department of manufacturing engineering to manufacturing engineering and mechanical engineering effective fall 2002. The change is in anticipation of adding a major in mechanical engineering next fall.

• Approved donating a right-of-way as requested by county and township officials for major road improvements to Cox Road at the former Voice of America site. Miami hopes to build a learning center at the location, which was acquired at no charge from the federal government. The goal is to provide work force development to area residents and businesses. Area universities would cooperate in providing programming.

• Heard a preliminary admission report from Myrtis Powell, vice president for student affairs. Powell told trustees that early admission requests for admission to Miami are up 2.2 percent, total applications are up 4.4 percent and campus visits are up 7 percent. If these trends continue, Miami could be enjoying a record year in applications, but she cautioned that it is too early in the admission cycle to draw any firm conclusions.

• Heard a report from Jayne Irvin, vice president for university advancement, that contributions so far in 2001 total $7.9 million as compared to $9.6 million at this time last year. Colleges and institutions nationwide are having a horrible fund-raising year, she told trustees, adding that December is historically the best month for donations.

Date Published: 12/13/2001
Volume: 21   Number: 19

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