Students react to USM budget cuts

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - It's registration time for students at the University of Southern Mississippi and along with new schedules, students are getting the news of possible changes to USM.

"It's not that surprising from what's going on everywhere else in the country right now," Trisha Casey said. "Cuts are having to be made. So it's not that shocking."

Trisha Casey is a first-year graduate student.

"I'm kind of going through what most students with registration are going through right now."

Casey said she's not worried about cuts from a $12 million budget proposal. Neither are her classmates.

"I haven't gotten the impression that any of the budgetary issues will effect the students directly in any major way," Matthew Williams said.

Dr. Tom Lansford, the Academic Dean at the Long Beach campus, said the budget could mean fewer staff, fewer programs and one less campus in South Mississippi.

"The recommendations would involve eliminating the Jackson County teaching site which we lease from the community college in Jackson County," Dr. Lansford said.

Campus officials said closing the Jackson County campus alone could save USM more than $200,000 a year.

"Part of this is because we will use stimulus funds this year to make our budget hold," Dr. Lansford said. "Next year, that stimulus money will go away. We're also anticipating a continued shortfall in the state sales tax and some of the other funds that fund higher education."

So the university is planning ahead by shifting faculty, closing unfilled positions and getting rid of programs which have low student enrollment.

As far as students attending this semester, they're optimistic that the changes will only help USM.

"I feel absolutely good going forward," Williams said.

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

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