Garrett Wood, For The Miami Student

Miami University will cut $5 million of their budget for the second fiscal year in a row.

The key to balancing academic affairs despite the cut is giving out more scholarships and potentially increasing tuition three percent, according to the board of trustees.

The board of trustees finance and audit committee will begin discussion of tuition increases in April, according to David Creamer, vice president for finance and business services.

At the end of last fiscal year on June 30, 2009, the Ohio legislature announced its decreasing expenditure for public schools including Miami.

Because of the declining contributions from the state of Ohio, Miami established a budget plan and was forced to cut back roughly three percent of their entire budget last June.

“Miami’s budget is a partnership between what the state gives and what tuition contributes,” Creamer said.

In order to survive these cuts, Miami must recruit and obtain a strong incoming class Creamer said.

One may find Miami’s new-tiered merit-based scholarship program paradoxical to the upcoming $5 million cut, beginning in July. Miami will commit to four year, merit-based scholarships for the incoming class, ranging from $6,500 to $9,000.

Indiana University and other schools nearby offer similar merit scholarships, Creamer said.

“Keeping up with other options on the market is just one way to cope with the budget cuts,” Creamer said.

The university strives to prioritize efficiently so teacher lay-offs are a last resort, according to Creamer. He said Miami works to avoid classes being cut and graduation inhibited due to lack of classes offered.

One third of the budget cuts directly affect the areas of business and finance, the information technology department and the Office of the President. On the other hand, the rest of the cuts affect how many grants are given out aside from the new tiered scholarships.

“In an era of declining state support, we are becoming more dependent on tuition, thus we hope the changes in scholarship programs help to make Miami more affordable,” John Skillings, special assistant to the president for enrollment management, said.

Skillings noted with a larger first-year class more students would be on campus spending money, thus fewer job positions would be cut.

The university is attempting to avoid budget cuts in the future, Creamer said. President David Hodge devised a 19-member Strategic Priorities Task Force, which will work to eliminate noticeable changes on campus despite cuts.

Creamer stands assured changes must be made.

“The (potential) three percent tuition increase for next year is the smallest it has been in 15 years,” Creamer said. “I have never experienced anything like this (the current recession) before in my lifetime, and as we approach this cautiously, the most challenging part is the unknown.”

With an unpredictable economy, many students who may have ventured to out of state universities in the past now remain in state according to Chuck Knepfle, director of student financial assistance. Knepfle said this impact was noticeable with the smaller class of 2013.

According to junior Lexi Baltazar, an out-of-state student, money and aid is hard to obtain.

“I think right now financial aid or grant money is less available to out-of-state (students) and they tend to give more to Ohio residents,” Baltazar said. “Either way there is less money to go around for everyone,” Baltazar said.

Students and staff share similar concerns with the implications of the cuts. They could mean one other thing — layoffs. Due to recent layoffs in the grounds department, challenges with upkeep arise.

Cody Powell, director of physical facilities, said his department had deep cuts.

“Custodial staffers were hit pretty hard,” Powell said.

Jeff Ross, registered maintenance technician for Housing, Dining and Guest Services, said he feels as if he is spread too thin. Since the budget cuts he has conducted handiwork for two residence halls.

Along with realistic goals come emotional challenges.

Junior Lauren White resided in Oxford last summer and said, “It was really sad because I got to know the temporary staffers, people who couldn’t be promised full-time jobs, and when school started they were all laid off.”

As far as academic building maintenance and keeping the grounds goes, Creamer said he does not want students shortchanged in anything on campus.

However the cuts will affect layoffs primarily in custodial areas and not the tenured professors.

Hodge’s recent memo looked to the future, despite the budget cuts.

“By anticipating and building on the changes that higher education will face, we will position Miami to be a progressive leader in higher education regardless of the circumstances we encounter,” Hodge wrote.

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