In what appears to be a recurring trend,
the state’s financial constraints are forcing the University
to cut its budget yet again. Last month, the state cut its funding
to the University by 5 percent. This reduction follows a fiscal
year in which the state trimmed $37 million from the
University’s budget. On a more positive note, the University
also announced it will conduct a fundraising campaign this spring,
similar to the one that ended in 1997. The campaign should help
alleviate some of the monetary problems the University currently
faces. Budget cuts have undeniably become a serious concern for the
University, and although the planned fundraising campaign will
help, public universities should not be forced to depend on
donations to remain fiscally sound.

Kate Green

The 5-percent decrease in state funding will amount to a $16.4
million decrease in the University’s budget. The effects of
this budget cut, and possible future cuts, could be far-reaching
and detrimental. Typically when institutions of higher learning see
their budgets decrease, they are forced to eliminate faculty
positions, offer fewer classes, cut funding to cultural necessities
such as the arts, and perhaps most importantly, lessen the amount
of financial aid they award.

The University has already outlined how it will deal with the
current budget cut, citing measures such as eliminating freshman
seminar classes and shortening the hours that buildings are open.
University Provost Paul Courant told the Daily that no financial
aid will be cut, but this could change if funding decreases
continue. Unless the state recognizes the importance of higher
education, the quality of education in the future will be in
jeopardy.

Given this current budget situation, the University has
announced a new funding campaign that will begin this spring. In
the University’s last campaign, held between 1992 and 1997,
it raised $1.4 billion — the second highest total raised by a
public university next to the University of California at Los
Angeles’s $2.2 billion. If University alumni want to see a
continuation of the high level of education they received, they
should help the University by donating money and thereby making a
tangible difference for current and prospective students.

But this reliance on alumni donations because of a lack of state
funding should not be necessary for a public university. Private
universities receive their endowments almost entirely from alumni,
whereas public universities generally depend on the state for much
of their budgets. Harvard University, for example, has an $18
billion endowment, compared to the University’s $3.6 billion
endowment.

The state should recognize the importance of higher education by
ceasing to make more funding cuts. The upcoming fundraising
campaign is important for the University, but even generous alumni
contributions are no replacement for a steady stream of state
funding.

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