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Bemidji State University announces more details on proposed budget

Bemidji State University announced proposed cost-saving measures today intended to meet an anticipated $2 million budget shortfall for fiscal years 2010 and 2011.

The proposed measures call for trimming the university's operational expenses, eliminating some vacant and part-time faculty positions, adjusting staff hours and reducing some staff positions.

The announcement came as part of the university's ongoing discussion with the campus community regarding its budget for the next two years.

"Our goal in meeting this budget challenge has been not only to align our budget with today's fiscal realities, but also to continue advancing our strategic goals," said BSU President Jon Quistgaard after the campus meeting. "We will continue strengthening the university's foundation as a higher education institution offering arts, sciences and select professional programs in a student-centered learning environment. In addition, the university's continuing commitment to advancing our stewardship of the environment, communities and global family remains. In these times, we must maintain a laser-sharp focus on our priority - providing a high quality, vibrant educational experience for our students."

In April, university officials announced a proposal to identify $1.279 million in permanent budget reductions for fiscal year 2010 and an additional $721,000 in fiscal year 2011, for a total of $2 million.

The proposed reductions would come from the following:

E $1 million from academic affairs.

E $400,000 from finance and administration.

E $400,000 from University-wide and/or fixed costs.

E $150,000 from student development and enrollment.

E $50,000 from the Office of the President

Academic Affairs will see a $676,000 reduction and realignment in FY2010 and will reach its goal of $1 million in total reductions and realignments in FY2011. Proposed changes in the academic affairs division include eliminating four vacant probationary faculty positions - one each in geology and in professional education and two in mass communication. Two fixed-term positions in psychology and one in English would also be eliminated. Plans also call for reducing supplies and equipment expenditures as well as one support staff position.

"Most central to our budget decisions has been the commitment to the university's academic mission," Quistgaard said. "Current probationary and faculty positions are a critical component of that mission and were maintained at present strength."

Proposed budget changes for the student development and enrollment division include eliminating a vacant, part-time position; accepting a voluntary request to reduce staff hours; shifting some health and counseling center salary dollars to a revenue fund; reviewing operational options for the Campus Child Care Center by 2010; and reducing overall supplies and equipment expenses within the division.

These changes are projected to save $100,000 in 2010 and $150,000 in 2011.

In the finance and administration division proposed changes include adjusting workloads to reduce the equivalent of 1.5 positions, adjusting service hours in the division's business and logistical services areas, considering alignment services with Northwest Technical College, holding an administrative position until 2010, reducing overtime and temporary costs, and reducing supplies and expenses by five percent. About $288,000 in savings is expected in 2010 from these cost-cutting measures and another $400,000 in savings is anticipated by 2011.

Cost-savings proposed within the Office of the President include reducing $25,000 in university support to the BSU Foundation and cutting $25,000 in expenses from areas such as hosting, travel and external contracts. In addition, the number of externally funded positions in the BSU Foundation and Alumni Association will be reduced.

Areas of fixed cost savings include eliminating some leases, converting the University's telephone system fully to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) and energy conservation.

The university also announced other adjustments beyond the $2 million in budget savings that will serve to strengthen the institution's future.

Those adjustments include:

E Identifying additional resources to support the Center for Extended Learning and its rapid growth in online enrollments.

E Adding new instructional technologies.

E Reducing and changing the way some programs and services are offered in the future.

E Developing additional permanent energy reduction strategies.

The university will finalize its budget plans by the end of May and submit the plans to the Minnesota State College and Universities system in time for action by the system's Board of Trustees meeting June 17 and 18.