Thursday, January 8, 2009

No room for basket weaving

I found a great read from The Chronicle of Higher Education about the different approaches college officials and policy makers nationwide are proposing this year to deal with large budget cuts in higher education. The article, Colleges Press New Ideas as They Brace for Bumpy State-Budget Sessions, mentions several universities that are now pitching to lawmakers ideas that would normally be politically unpopular during better financial times.

They include:

-Merging institutions
-Replacing tenure with 4-year contracts
-Making a public research university private
-Less state regulation
-Capping enrollment
-Cutting state-aid programs (scholarships)
-Reducing the need for faculty by reducing the number of general-education credits required
-Increasing cigarette taxes and using revenue for higher education – revenue discussion

However, some state lawmakers are pushing for more accountability by proposing cuts to underenrolled and redundant programs and basing how much appropriation a school receives on the number of graduating students rather than the number of students enrolled. Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney of Washington summed it up with this quote from the article, "There's no room for basket weaving anymore, anywhere."

Here on the islands, the University of Hawaii, in October, proposed a hiring freeze, electricity conservation and spending cuts to address the projected 4% revenue shortfall. It would be a savings of $30.6 million.

Now that the 2009 Legislative Session is around the corner, the Committee on Finance will be holding an informational briefing with UH officials to discuss their financial plan given the most recent revenue projection, which will be determined by the Council on Revenue this Friday. The info briefing will be on Thursday, January 15, 2009 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in conference room 308.

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