USD tuition hike reduces budget cuts

The University of South Dakota was forced to make some eliminations to compensate for the budget reductions for FY2012, but USD President James Abbott said things aren�t as bad as they could be.

It was announced by USD and the Sanford School of Medicine Wednesday, April 20, that in response to state cuts totaling $4.9 million, 11 positions will be eliminated.

This development comes on the heels of the closure of Watertown�s L.P.N. to R.N. program.

�It�s always painful, (but) it could have been worse,� Abbott said.

Of the 11 positions, eight were vacant at the time of their elimination, and three were part of the Watertown program.

�(Those are) not the only cuts that we made, of course,� Abbott said. �We made cuts across campus. But basically, they were not significant, and they were pretty much agreed to. We asked everybody to indicate what they could live without, and we just made minor adjustments.

�We�ve ended up being in pretty good shape, because we had more retirements and resignations than usual, and because we cut fairly significantly two years ago. We�re in better shape this year than we thought we might be,� he said.

He added that he feels �good� about the outcome, and �I think the staff and faculty do, too.�

State general funds appropriated to USD and the Sanford School of Medicine have been cut by $7,348,389 over the past three years.

Along with the recent cuts, this has resulted in the loss of 75 positions, reductions in 14 employment contracts, closure of the Business Research Bureau, reduction in the technology fellows program, elimination of the Computational Science and Statistics Ph.D. program and a 50 percent reduction in the M.D./Ph.D. program.

Abbott said USD sets its budget based in part on what it estimates the state Board of Regents outlines in terms of reductions and increases in tuition fees.

The percentage by which those fees is lowered or raised can benefit the university in terms of what cuts it needs to make, he said.

�If we had to cut $2.2 million, and then they turn around and raise tuition by 6.9 percent, that reduces significantly the cut,� Abbott said. �(For FY2012), we were cutting 10 percent, and we had a 6.9 percent increase. So then you�re left with about a 3.1 to fool with. So in this case, I think a fair statement is that tuition increase approved by the board significantly reduced the cut that we had to take.�

USD was only one of many institutions and programs affected by cuts proposed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard in January, and subsequently passed by the state legislature.

The governor proposed reducing funds by at least 10 percent for each state-funded program.

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