Indiana universities searching for ways to cut $150 million from their budgets by year’s end say they’re looking at all
options — including eliminating some sports or even academic majors.
"At this point, everything is on
the table," said Tony Proudfoot, a vice president for marketing and communications at Ball State University, which saw
attendance at its home football games drop more than 40 percent this year.
Gov. Mitch Daniels ordered the cuts
at the state’s public universities — Indiana, Purdue, Ivy Tech, Indiana State, Ball State, Vincennes and Southern Indiana
— because state revenue continues to fall far short of projections. The latest forecast, released Tuesday, predicts
Indiana will take in $1.8 billion less than what lawmakers thought when passing a two-year budget.
it’s going to be hard," said Teresa Lubbers, commissioner for higher education.
Lubbers has met with college
leaders to help them find ways to trim budgets before the first week of January. She acknowledges the process isn’t easy.
Many schools had made cuts in sports and academic areas before Daniels issued his directive.
University eliminated its swimming program last year because of lack of interest and financial issues. Indiana State cited
financial reasons for cutting its men’s and women’s tennis teams earlier this year.
Two-thirds of Indiana State’s
athletic budget comes from student fees. The rest is generated by ticket sales and other outside sources. Only men’s basketball
generates enough money to cover expenses, said Indiana State spokeswoman Tara Singer.
"Revenue from tennis
was a fraction of the expense of the sport, especially in terms of scholarship dollars," Singer said.
and IU sports tend to be self-supporting because of Big Ten and other revenue, which leaves some worried that cuts could fall
in academics and other areas.
Purdue has begun reviewing its academic offerings and has created a Web page for
students and faculty to monitor the discussion. The site links to other universities, including Michigan State, which has
recommended eliminating American studies, retailing, geological sciences and other areas of study to cope with a budget crisis.
Purdue expects to have to cut $10 million for the West Lafayette campus this year and $20 million in the next fiscal
year under the Daniels-ordered cuts.
The university has already scaled back its hiring, implemented a pay freeze
and is focusing on energy conservation, but a committee is looking at other options.
"The potential cuts are
pretty monumental," said Adam Kline, a senior at Purdue who serves on the committee. "Nobody is going to want their
budget reduced, but this is the situation we are in right now. The most important thing to us as students is maintaining the
value of the Purdue degree."
Indiana President Michael McRobbie said the university has made $177 million
in cost reductions so far this year, including $25.2 million through a salary freeze. He said the reductions would help IU
cope with the state-ordered cuts.
Indiana State has already reduced its course offerings after a study found that
there were about 5,000 empty seats in general education courses each semester. The school cut the number of courses from 214
to about 150 by targeting those that had fewer than 10 students enrolled.
Even fast-growing Ivy Tech, which has
added 90 new full-time faculty members in the last year to keep up with an explosion in student growth, may have to slow down.
Ivy Tech’s Bloomington chancellor, John Whikehart, has lobbied to be spared cuts and hopes they aren’t divided so
that each institution has to cut 6 percent. Instead, he hopes for a site-specific approach that factors in each school’s missions
and other factors.
"Certainly we don’t want seven institutions competing for whose ox is going to get gored
and how badly," he said. "In a state that ranks 47th in the number of residents with a college education, we all
understand that we have a shared mission."
No matter how the cuts are spread out, Lubbers expects the community
college system will share the pain.
"Ivy Tech was trying to move toward a system where they had more full-time
professors and fewer adjunct professors," she said. "The likelihood that they can move as fast as they wanted to
in that area seems highly unlikely right now."