USM budget cuts may close Jackson Co. campus - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

USM budget cuts may close Jackson Co. campus

By WLOX Staff

HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - University of Southern Mississippi officials are reviewing budget cuts proposed by a campus-wide committee. Among the proposals is one to close the Jackson County campus, which would save the school $201,030.

School leaders are searching for additional areas for reductions, to lower spending by $11-12 million for fiscal year 2011.

The report says of the Jackson County campus that "lease costs continue to rise and create an undue burden on the USM GC budget." USM cites enrollment at the Jackson County site has been flat since Katrina.

The plan calls for vacant staff positions to be eliminated at USM's Long Beach campus, and for classes and recruiting to be consolidated there. Closing those positions would save the university $219,447.

Other budget savings that impact the coast campus: cutting the budget of the provost by $13,000, cutting $18,000 from equipment costs, cutting operating budget for enrollment and marketing by $7,650.

The proposed spending reductions are in response to an anticipated shortfall in state appropriations and general cost increases. USM hopes to lower spending by $11-12 million for fiscal year 2011.

"We have never witnessed economic conditions like the ones we face today, which necessitate that we make hard choices," said President Martha Saunders. "We are in the early stages of a thoughtful, strategic process in which meeting student needs will be our top concern, while finding efficiencies without jeopardizing growth."

To view the entire proposal, click on the following link: http://usm.edu/provost/budget_planning/USMBudgetReductionRecs.pdf

The university's Academic Planning Group (APG), under the leadership of Southern Miss Provost Bob Lyman, has been working since last fall to study budget-related issues and how the university can address those.

"Our aim is to maintain quality educational programs while making some difficult decisions, and we've made the needs of our students our top priority throughout this process," Dr. Lyman said.

"Many educational institutions across the country are experiencing similar or worse situations in what are tough economic times nationally," Southern Miss Chief Financial Officer Joe Morgan said. "We would be remiss and negligent in our responsibilities not to take a long-term look at the situation and plan for the future."

For more information about this budget process and the work of the APG, online visit http://www.usm.edu/provost/budget_planning/

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