State budget crisis affecting Northwestern

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State budget crisis affecting Northwestern

January 20, 2010

Ongoing cuts in state funding for the current fiscal year and the possibility of even deeper cuts next year have officials at Northwestern Oklahoma State University working to reduce expenditures while at the same time ensuring academic and student support services remain at high levels.

“For the foreseeable future, we face significant budget challenges as state support for higher education dwindles,” said Dr. Janet Cunningham, university president. “We will have to be even more conservative in our approach to budgeting in order to protect core programs and services.”

“During my career at Northwestern, I have experienced several periods of budget cuts, but this situation appears to be the worst.”

So far this fiscal year, state budget cuts Northwestern total nearly $349,000. Monthly allocations were cuts 5 percent beginning in August, with 10 percent reductions ordered beginning in December. Budget cuts will continue for the remaining five months of the fiscal year, but at what level is yet unknown.

Northwestern began preparing for the possibility of budget shortfalls as it prepared the current year’s budget, reducing travel and operating budgets for non-academic departments.

During this fiscal year, four positions created by vacancies have not been refilled at the Alva and Enid campuses and additional vacancies will be refilled only if they are critical to the mission of the university.

“Our first priority is to try to protect academic programs and key student services,” Cunningham said. “Budgeting decisions have to be based on what is best for our students. Unfortunately, that does not make the process any easier.”

“We have been fortunate that enrollment has grown, providing some additional revenue to offset some of the budget cuts. Right now, enrollment is critical in protecting our budget.”

Cunningham said the university will begin planning its FY 2011 budget in February and that her administrative team will begin examining additional ways to reduce expenses.

“The budget process will be difficult and not without some pain,” Cunningham said. “But through all of this, we will look for opportunities to move forward in areas and continue building a better Northwestern.”

-NW-