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MSUM Cuts Not as Deep as First Expected - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

MSUM Cuts Not as Deep as First Expected

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JANUARY 22 UPDATE

Minnesota State University Moorhead has released the final plan to make up for a projected $8 million dollar deficit the university faces, and it appears some of the cuts won't be as bad as first expected.

The university says it will now layoff three full time faculty positions instead of the six it was predicting back in November. Officials say more professors are opting for early retirement, and combining some departments helped make up the difference.

The university is still planning on laying off 17 of its adjunct faculty, and will phase out five low-enrollment majors.

DECEMBER 5 UPDATE

They tried offering early retirement deals, but didn't get enough response. So today, Minnesota State University Moorhead rolled out another budget cutting plan. If this plan is approved about 20 faculty positions would be cut, and some majors phased out. Valley News team's Eric Crest was there to hear the proposal and how staff feel about the proposed changes.

It was a packed house at Moorhead State University Thursday morning. MSUM officials are trying to find the most seamless way to fix their budget woes. But seamless may not be the right word.

"I was hoping less faculty would be cut," says one MSUM professor, Karen Branden.

We're talking about departments and faculty, that are on the proposed chopping block.

"It was about balancing the budget for the university for the next decade. The difficulty is we have fewer students so we need fewer faculty," says MSUM President Edna Syzmanski.

"Well it's a painful blow. I work in a department that does really good work for the university," says History Professor Paul Harris.

"It's hard because we're good, and if we weren't good, it would be easy but it's hard," says Branden.

In all 22 faculty members would be out. 16 of those temporary positions and the other six tenured jobs.

"Obviously this has faculty really concerned," says Harris.

On top of that 11 departments would have to consolidate. Another five majors with the fewest enrollment numbers would be cut. Including American Multicultural Studies, Medical Laboratory Technician, Masters in Fine Arts, Music Composition, and Community Health.

"It is emotional shedding some tears about losses. It just tells you that these are hard losses at a school that's doing great things and people are going to lose their jobs. These are real people with children and it's going to change some of the features of the university and it takes it's toll," says Branden.

While many faculty members voiced concerns about how these cuts and consolidations could change the university for the worse. It's not a gamble to assume all just want to see MSUM continue to thrive.

"It's very hard for us because this is a tight knit highly engaged excellent faculty," says President Syzmanski.

"If you love MSUM and you know what you're getting here is worth it. Bring people here. It's time for the community to come. We need people to come," says Branden.

The department merges could take effect as soon as March first. If majors are eliminated, that would happen over the next three years to allow students in those programs time to finish up their degrees. The MSUM Faculty Association has until December 20th to respond to today's proposal.

Original Story

Administration at Minnesota State University-Moorhead scratched their initial plan of strictly lay offs or early retirement offers to balance their projected eight million dollar deficit by 2016, for something new. On Thursday morning, MSUM leaders announced they would like to eliminate five low enrollment majors and merge some academic departments.

On the chopping block is American Multicultural Studies, Medical Laboratory Technicians, Masters in Fine Arts, Music Composition, and Community Health majors. Students currently studying in those fields would be contacted immediately and given help to develop a plan that would help them graduate within three years, before the programs were phased out.

The proposed cuts would also focus on professors. Administration is looking to eliminate 22 faculty positions. Six of those positions would be tenured faculty and the other 16 would be temporary faculty jobs.

School officials cite low enrollment for the justification for making cuts at the level they have just proposed. The Faculty Association will now review the administration's plan and formally respond by December 20.

This all comes on the heels of 20 early retirement offers that were accepted by staffers back in November. Enrollment is down about 10 percent at MSUM and these cuts would result in a scale back of faculty to the same tune, 10 percent. The proposed plan would save MSUM a projected 3 million dollars.

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