Tech is industriously preparing for an expected mandated state budget cut of about six to as much as 10 percent. With limited information from the governor’s office in hand, the Institute is taking preemptive measures to soften the blow that this budget shortfall could bring.
While Tech has announced a hiring freeze across the entire campus, we are glad to hear that the Institute has chosen to protect those positions integral to our education, including replacements for tenured professors, instructors and student employees. Non-critical employees will not be hired, but departments can still go through their corresponding administrative units to request permission to fill necessary positions, ensuring that efforts to cut back on spending do not go overboard.
The Institute has also decided to spread the cuts across all departments rather than just those that receive state funds. While this move could be regarded as unjust, the fact that all departments will be represented in the newly formed Institute Budget Planning Committee will make the painful process of cutting budgets more fair. In addition, we are pleased to hear the student body will be represented in the committee by both presidents of Undergraduate and Graduate Student Government.
It was equally refreshing to receive an email from President Gary Schuster informing everyone, including students, of the evolving situation. This is a good opportunity to strengthen the communication links between all members of the campus as everyone stands to be affected, even if only in a small way, by the cuts.
The shortfall also provides an opportunity to revisit more conservative spending habits on campus. In times of fiscal austerity we can proactively react by putting our conservation efforts into high gear. If more critical budget items seem to be at risk, we can take another look at unnecessary, if not wasteful, expenses, such as those incurred by the lights that seem to be left on at night without cause, or the necessity of new construction projects and expensive equipment.
As more information comes in and plans to cut back begin to materialize, Tech should not lose sight of important priorities for students, such as campus security and health services, which cannot afford to lose any funding or support. While schools like UGA have proposed making up the lost funds by charging students a research university fee, we applaud Tech’s proactive approach and hope that in the long term other creative revenue sources can be explored that do not hit students in their pocketbooks.