For USM, a new year brings more budget concerns

By Colleen Donovan - bio | email

HATTIESBURG, MS. (WDAM) - A rainy Wednesday welcomed a new academic year for Southern Miss students. As they tried to locate classrooms and University services, President Martha Saunders addressed the 2012 budget.

Last January she appointed a priorities committee charged with identifying areas to be enhanced or eliminated. Saunders said, "We're looking at more reductions unfortunately for the 2012 budget, but we want to do it smart."

Saunders expects the committee's report to be submitted soon. At that point the University's Executive Cabinet will implement that plan. Projected in the recommendations are program closures.

According to Saunders, "There will be other savings that they will identify for us as well and that we'll consider, but I'm afraid there will be some program closures."

That's due to what Saunders says is an anticipated thirty percent reduction in state appropriations from 2009 to 2012. However, if a program is eliminated, students enrolled in that field can continue their studies. And with growing freshman classes core subjects like English and Algebra are filled, creating stress.

"Again we are not at capacity but if we continue enrollment growth without being able to enlarge our faculty, some students won't get to major in what they want to major in or it will take them longer to get done," said Saunders.

Southern Miss is currently predicting twelve to fifteen million dollars being reduced from their 2012 budget. However, Saunders said newly approved federal stimulus funds may help.

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