The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

July 24, 2009

Legislators hear details of budget cuts at MSU

Cliff analogies dominate outlook

(Continued)

MANKATO —

Mary Bliesmer, a professor in the School of Nursing, said funding cuts have reduced the number of adjunct faculty in the school, forcing reductions in the number of clinicals offered, which means fewer new students can be accepted. There will be 40 new nursing students admitted in the fall and spring semesters rather than 48 each, Bliesmer said.

Faculty reductions have forced class sizes up to the point that there aren’t lecture halls large enough to handle some sociology courses, forcing MSU to hold classes in the movie theater across the street from campus, said Don Larsson, head of the MSU faculty union.

Davenport noted that student numbers are increasing even as faculty counts are reduced. And attempts to streamline operations are reaching their limit as MSU already has significantly fewer employees than comparable colleges for cleaning and maintaining buildings, handling business operations and doing other non-academic support work.

Reorganization has eliminated administrative positions, including all but one vice presidential post, Davenport said.

“I think we’re leaner,” he said. “I think we’re more efficient.”

Future budget reductions are inevitably going to bring much of the pain to academic areas, officials said.

“We know ’12 and ’13’s not a pretty picture,” said Rick Straka, vice president of finance and administration. “... We do know there’s going to be fewer classes offered, fewer sections for students to choose from.”

That will mean delayed graduations for students, something that is happening now to one student Rajabali knows who needs just one more class to graduate. It’s not being offered until spring.

Those sorts of delays aren’t just a hardship on the students, they also harm Minnesota’s economy, said Sen. Kathy Sheran, a Mankato Democrat and vice chairwoman of the Senate Higher Education Committee.

“One of our goals in both the House and Senate is to have students moving through in a timely manner so they can get into the work force and be productive in the economy,” Sheran said.

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