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Bemidji State University to cut staff, programs

Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College officials spent much of Thursday presenting to staff, faculty and students from both campuses a plan to reduce the institutions' budget by 10 percent.

The $5 million budget reduction is attributed to the state's $6.2 billion budget deficit.

Hanson's plan calls for recalibration as a means to balance the budget. The result is cuts to staff positions and programs, but also the addition of resources to certain areas and new ideas of how the university and college will become "distinct."

"We simply have too many majors," Hanson said during the BSU all-campus forum Thursday morning. "We can't afford it."

The recalibration plan calls for eliminating the massage therapy and environmental landscaping programs at NTC and the art history program at BSU. Another program is expected to be eliminated at BSU, but has not been revealed yet. Hanson said he could not disclose which program would be cut because the faculty of the program has not been notified yet.

The recalibration plan also reduces faculty positions in 18 academic programs at BSU. They 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. A total of 33 faculty positions will be cut.

At least 10 to 11 administrative positions will be eliminated from BSU in the areas of library technology, communication and marketing, trades, physical plant supervisor, telecommunications, clerical work and counseling, as well as at Optivation.

In addition, two athletic programs will be cut from BSU -men's indoor and outdoor track and field.

When asked during a press conference Thursday afternoon why the men's track programs were being eliminated, Hanson answered it had little to do with the budget, but more with Title IX compliance (part of the Title IX federal law passed in 1972 that requires gender equity for men and women in every educational program receiving federal funding). Hanson said the decision to cut the team also has to do with the sports BSU is required to maintain as members of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and the sports BSU is required to maintain to belong to Division II athletics. BSU currently has 15 Division II sports.

"We are working to become compliant with Title IX and we still have a ways to go," Hanson said. "That ended up restricting other kinds of actions with athletics we couldn't do because of what the conference wouldn't allow. We are well out of alignment, as far as Title IX."

While many programs and faculty positions will be reduced or eliminated, Hanson stated, "the recalibration plan is not just about reductions."

The plan adds two faculty positions to the business program and one faculty position to the area of mass communications.

The recalibration effort also seeks to strengthen the American Indian and Ojibwe language programs with the goal of the American Indian Resource Center becoming nationally distinctive.

Hanson noted the recalibration plan calls for increased emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, classes. It also seeks to give better enrollment access to first-generation students, students from modest-income families and American Indian students from the White Earth, Red Lake and Leech Lake bands.

In addition, the plan puts forth goals to raise the student completion rate by 20 percent, create three-year baccalaureate programs and reduce the loan dependency of students by 25 percent.

While preliminary BSU spring enrollment figures show an increase since last spring's numbers, there could be a chance the recalibration plan will cause enrollment numbers to drop. Hanson said the university and college have set aside a reserve fund to replace the revenue lost if this happens.

"We don't expect to lose a lot of students," Hanson said. "It's not just BSU. Every four-year institution in the state is being impacted. There is no greener grass."

Because of this reason, Hanson said, he does not see the local economy or community being impacted by the recalibration effort.

"It is my hope we can grow the university and the college and increase our combined effect in the community," Hanson said. "I am very aware that we're an important player in the community and I don't want to mess that up, and I don't think we will."

The public can view the recalibration presentation online at Hanson said he will not publicly release the names of faculty let go in an effort to protect their confidentiality.

"It makes us sick to think about cutting programs. It's uncomfortable," Hanson said at an all-campus forum at NTC. "But it's also an extraordinary opportunity to refocus and strengthen our institutions."

BSU students can expect to see a 4 percent increase in tuition in the coming biennium, according to Bill Maki, BSU-NTC's vice president for finance and administration.

"Recalibration is about adjusting the institution in a way that allows us to continue to provide high-quality academic programs and sports services for our students at both institutions," Hanson said.

Recalibration actions

The following is a list of the number of BSU faculty to be reduced or eliminated by fall 2012:

- College of Arts and Sciences

--Visual arts, two full-time equivalent, or FTE

--English and speech, 2 FTE

--History, 2 FTE

--Philosophy, 1 FTE

--Art history, 1 FTE (program to be eliminated)

--Modern languages, 2 FTE

--Music, 2 FTE

--Physics, 1.5 FTE

--Environmental studies, .5 FTE

--Sociology, 1 FTE

--Economics, 1 FTE

--Mathematics, 1 FTE

--Computer science, 2 FTE

--College of Business, Technology and Communications

--Accounting, 1 FTE

--Technological studies, 6 FTE

- College of Health Services and Human Ecology

--Physical education and health science, 3 FTE

--Professional education, 2 FTE

--Psychology, 1 FTE

- Specific college not yet identified

--Program to be announced, 2 FTE

- Non-instructional areas

--50 percent of graduate assistant positions

- Athletics

--Men's indoor and outdoor track and field

- BSU library

--1 FTE