Hearing about college budget cuts are a campus-wide reality, and being a part of the college has its costs. It can be very expensive for not only students, but for faculty and staff as well.
According to Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Kemal Atkins, 85 percent of the college budget is made up of tuition and fees. Student enrollment plays a critical role in keeping the budget stable. According to Atkins, the enrollment number was once 5,000. However, according to Atkins and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs William Seigh, because the number of students graduating from high school has been reduced, so has the number of student applications since 2009.
This, in turn, has reduced the budget. According to Atkins, the number of students graduating high school in New Hampshire has been reduced by 10 percent. The number of students went from 4,800 a few years ago to 4,200 this year, which means the number of enrolled students has decreased.
Because of this, Atkins said that at least one program has been eliminated, but he didn’t specify which one. It has also reduced the types of food items to bring the food cost down. Atkins said while it does bring some stress, they have to ensure that they have the resources to carry on the needs of others.
“Any time you are in a situation where you would have to make some tough choices, there comes some stress with that because people want to make sure…we’re feeling that our mission is delivering the high quality education through our programs and services to students and staff, and we make sure that our staff and teams have the tools they need in order to do that,” said Atkins.
Music Professor Jim Chesebrough said that while there was a budget cut, his academic experience hasn’t changed and said that there was always a budget. “We’ve always had budgets and we’ve had to live within the constraints of budget and whatever the budget is. As a professor, I decide how it best meets the needs of my students. I think Keene has had a long tradition of trying to be fiscally responsible and this is not new,” he said.
President of the Social Activities Council Bryanna Pearson said that although the budget cut hasn’t affected her directly as an academic student, she could still feel the tension coming from the budget cut. “We can all feel the tension around all the different budget cuts that have been happening,” said Pearson. “I just think it is very disappointing how little support the student organizations get from this school itself, like the offices, the President, stuff like that. [It’s] just sad that all these cuts are happening and it is impacting students as a whole of programming,” she said.
According to Chesebrough, the types of changes that were made in the music department included reduced funding for travel, therefore increasing the cost to students.
He also said that one of the things they tried to do was reduce copy costs by reducing the use of the copy machine.
Keene State junior Tim Peterson, who is also apart of the Social Activities Council (SAC), said that SAC became more careful of where and how much they spend.
They have had a lot of discussions about the remaining money that they have left and where it is going to go.
They are also trying to decide the most effective events they can plan per dollar.
Peterson said that while the budget cut hasn’t drastically changed day-to-day life for him, it has certainly increased some awareness for him, as well as a little bit of stress knowing that there could be a drastic cut.
Peterson said that while there has been some stress, there have been some things he admired about the financial decisions that the people in higher positions have made.
“I’m glad that those in positions of power are financially responsible with the institution because with government budgets where you’re kind of guaranteed to not go bankrupt, it is very easy to run deficit budgets and provide more and more services using money that we don’t have,” Peterson said. “So I think it’s really impressive that people are being fiscally responsible like that; it’s really important”
Provost Seigh said that the budget cuts in the academic departments are still a work in progress. He didn’t get into the specifics of what the exact budget cuts in the academic departments are, but said that the budget cut has brought new opportunities for the different departments.
“[The budget cuts have] shined the light on or opened a door for us to explore the ways that we can develop our programs to make our programs stronger to give you, to give students, the kind of learning opportunities that we value most at the college,” said Seigh.
Katherine Glosser can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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