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BSU, NTC: Recalibration plan for $5 million shortfall unveiled

The comprehensive plan to deal with a $5 million budget shortfall for 2011-12 and 2012-13 for Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College is being detailed today by President Richard Hanson in different meetings and forums.

The recalibration plan involves eliminating four academic programs (about six staff positions), reducing 18 programs (about 33 staff positions), at least 10.38 administrative and non-academic staff positions and two athletic programs (two coaches and 35 athletes). Some student services offices will also be integrated.

According to a news release:

The four academic programs to be eliminated are art history, environmental landscaping, massage therapy and one program yet to be confirmed.

The 18 programs to be reduced are visual arts, English and speech, history, philosophy, modern languages, music, physics, environmental studies, economics, mathematics, computer science, psychology, sociology, accounting, technological studies, physical education, health and sport, professional education and automotive.

The 10-11 administrative positions to be eliminated are a library tech, in communication and marketing, trades, a physical plant supervisor, in telecom, clerical, counseling and Optivation.

The two athletic sports to be dropped are men's indoor and outdoor track and field.

The Center for Extended Learning would be integrated by melding the staff of CEL with the Records and Admissions Offices and creating the AVP for Strategic Partnerships and Information Services.

The cuts are planned in response to the economic challenges Minnesota is facing with its $6.2 billion budget deficit.

The issues are not unique to BSU and NTC. Similar situations are facing other Minnesota State Colleges and University institutions.

"Our recalibration is intensely focused on our students and their learning," the news release stated. "We are committed to efficient, timely and cost-effective programming and support for our students."

The plan was planned to not include across-the-board cuts.

"We are shaping and sculpting the university and college to be more ready for the challenges of higher education in 2020 and beyond," the news release said.

Because of that, the plan focuses on emerging programs.

Two positions are set to be added to the business program and one position would be added to the mass communication program.

A goal would be to strengthen to Native American studies and Ojibwe language programs to become nationally distinctive.

A recommendation is being made to the faculty to have a coordinated curricular infusion centered on leadership, ethics, informatics and environmental sustainability.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics programming - STEM - is planned to have renewed importance and relevance through increased grant activity, outreach and scholarly activity.

There also will be a renewed commitment to university access for potential students in Minnesota, including first-generation students, modest-income families and their children, and Native American students from the three nearby tribes (White Earth, Red Lake and Leech Lake).

The university and college anticipate an initial short-term drop in enrollment.

Spring and fall enrollment numbers remain high and the systems are looking at a 5 percent increase in credits. Applications are also up from one year ago.

BSU juniors and NTC first- and second-year students who are currently enrolled in programs that are being eliminated will be able to complete their programs.

An Institutional Distinctiveness Agenda is also planned, which will have the goals of raising student completion rate by 20 percent; create a three-year baccalaureate program, with testing to beginning in fall 2011; reduce students' loan dependency by 25 percent; and create within students and graduates a power and forward-looking sense of societal relevance in terms of employability, competence and motivation.