Budget cuts discussed at ASU town hall - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Budget cuts discussed at ASU town hall

ASU President Dr. Everette Freeman ASU President Dr. Everette Freeman

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Georgia lawmakers continue to battle the budget shortfall with proposed cuts to higher education.

A new proposal by the University System Chancellor includes a 35%  tuition increase, an end to the guaranteed four-year fixed rate tuition, a thousand dollar fee per student, consolidation of schools, salary cuts, and shorter semesters.

At Albany State University, a town hall meeting was held to discuss those cuts.

The HPER Gym was held full of students and faculty, who had a lot of questions about what's been proposed. One of the most popular questions was what happens if 'my program' is cut.

Administrators said that simply means they'll accept no new students to that discipline and student in the program can still graduate with their degree. Administrators stressed right now this is just a proposal, but one thing they told students is certain is a tuition increase.

With the threat of foreign language classes being cut, class sizes growing, and tuition increasing, students, faculty, and supporters packed into the HPER gym at Albany State University to discuss concerns.

"I think it's pretty crazy because I came here for a four year degree and I heard this is getting changed to a college, majors are getting cut, I don't know what's going on but I hope it gets resolved soon," said ASU Freshman Desire Clark.

Officials answered questions, but won't know how deep cuts will go until a budget's passed. They do know, they're not alone. "All of us find ourselves in a very, very difficult situation for making cuts to budgets that are already exhausted in terms of having any excess any fat, there is none," said ASU President Dr. Everette Freeman.

Proposed cuts at UGA aren't any better, they're planning to eliminate thousands of faculty, eliminate academic programs forcing hundreds to change their majors, eliminating 4-H, and closing extension offices.

"The University of Georgia has high acclaim when it come to state colleges and universities in the nation." Calling the proposed cuts unacceptable, Representative Winfred Dukes has been flooded with emails and calls from students and the community.

He says cuts like those at Georgia Tech, that include eliminating 452 faculty and staff, a loss of research revenue, the legislature's fault.  "We have passed policies that have reduced our ability to generate revenues in the state from about 3/4 of a billion dollars, to a billion," said Dukes.

He calls tax breaks a raid on the treasury since 2008, forcing colleges like ABAC to eliminate 34 jobs, close two campuses and eliminate programs, or causing Georgia Southwest State to eliminate 18 jobs and forgo promotions and raises.

It's the same for Valdosta State that would put 11 academic programs on the chopping block, and cut the women's golf program and honor's college, and cut faculty and staff at Bainbridge College.  "We're causing the future of our state to be in peril," said Dukes.

Dukes said he's sure some of the deepest cuts can be avoided, because education in the state is at stake.

Another concern is, if the proposed cuts are accepted, could cutting three graduate programs change ASU's University status?

Administrators said those weren't the only graduate programs the university offers and their status would not likely change. They were concerned about talk of consolidating schools brought up today in Atlanta.

As these budget cuts close in on Georgia colleges, a Georgia Tech professor has been named to a board advising President Barack Obama on historically black colleges and universities. Willie Pearson, a professor of sociology at the Atlanta University, is one of 11 members on the board.

  • Click HERE for a list of proposed cuts to Georgia's college's and universities and a list of tax breaks lawmakers granted special interest groups.


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