Mason’s Budget Cut Plan: Administrators Discuss $17.6 Million Cut from 2010 University Budget

by   Posted on September 22nd, 2009 in Uncategorized

Emily Sharrer, Editor-in-Chief

About 100 members of the George Mason University Faculty Senate gathered in Harris Theater last Wednesday to hear Senior Vice President Maurice Scherrens and Provost Peter Stearns discuss the ways the university is dealing with the newest $17.6 million budget cut for the 2010 fiscal year.

The university’s operating budget currently stands at $887,117,600.

Slightly higher class size numbers and a lack of money to be put toward student services are two of the main ways students will be affected by the cut, according to Scherrens.

“I think the major impact is that there are going to be slightly more students in classes,” said Scherrens. Stearns also addressed this point during the meeting, claiming that average class size has recently risen from 26 to 28 students due to increased enrollment.

Since 2008, $45.3 million has been cut from the university’s budget. Most schools across the state have seen similar budget cuts according to Scherrens.

“It’s not much different for other schools,” said Scherrens during the meeting, “everybody’s going to show the same general [rate of decrease].”

Stearns and Scherrens outlined the main parts of the university which will take cuts to offset the 15 percent budget cut. Instruction will be reduced by $2.92 million, utilities will be cut by $.7 million and academic support will take a $.67 million cut. Other areas affected include administration and university relations. The total reductions equal $6.1 million.

“Nobody‘s happy, but I think we have made budget reductions that are equitable,” said Scherrens.

Mason faculty were also told to expect a one day mandatory furlough in addition to all other budget cuts.  The state hopes to save an additional $1 million by mandating that all “state employees” stay home without pay for one day.

One Faculty Senate member suggested making the furlough day very public by not teaching classes and spending the week informing students about the state of the financial crisis in Virginia.  By not letting the furloughs happen unnoticed, this professor hoped to show Virginia taxpayers how the budget crisis affects them.

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