USM And Staff Discuss Possible Budget Cuts

USM Gulf Coast leaders realized that their current budget had funded but unfilled jobs, unused scholarships and equipment needs that could wait. By removing those items from the budget, the Long Beach college can get through the rest of the year in the same shape it's in now.

After addressing the media last week, Dr. Jim Williams talked with his USM Gulf Coast staff, and updated them on the administration's plan of attact.  Dr. Williams said, "I don't think that we need to be in a blind panic at this point."

But the administrator told faculty members that the Gulf Park campus will have to tighten its belts to handle two proposed funding cuts. "But," he said, "this is something that's not going to cause us to close our doors."

The university has devised a short term budget cutting plan to protect both students and teachers. If it's ordered to take 5% out of its current budget, Dr. Williams said USM Gulf Coast can trim the $219,000 without laying off faculty or staff.  According to Williams, "We feel that we have worked out a very specific plan for meeting this year's potential cutbacks."

Next year, the state could cut 14% -- a half million dollars from USM Gulf Coast's budget. Dr. Williams told faculty members that tuition increases can offset the loss. But that's not something his administration favors.  "There is a likelihood that if we had even a small tuition increase, " he said, "it's possible that some of our students would have to make the decision not to come to school."

Dr. Williams told teachers that his challenge is to protect both students, faculty and the university. That way USM Gulf Coast can continue to offer a quality education, even during times when the budget is in limbo.

As you know, Mississippi colleges and other state agencies may have to slash their budgets to help the state through its financial mess. The problem is that state revenue collections are lower that analysts predicted.