GGC faculty, staff meet to discuss budget proposals

Georgia Gwinnett College faculty and staff members attended a campus “town hall” meeting today to hear an update on the school’s state funding situation for fiscal year 2011. GGC President Daniel J. Kaufman reassured the audience that no actual budgetary decisions have been made and likely will not be until May or June.

Georgia Gwinnett College faculty and staff members attended a campus “town hall” meeting today to hear an update on the school’s state funding situation for fiscal year 2011. GGC President Daniel J. Kaufman reassured the audience that no actual budgetary decisions have been made and likely will not be until May or June.

“We are in the early stages of the process,” Kaufman said. “The University System of Georgia was asked by legislators to submit a plan if another $300 million in budget cuts becomes inevitable. The resulting document clearly indicated the seriousness of the situation, but it also served as a point at which to start the budgetary conversation, which as you know, is very difficult for everyone involved.”

Kaufman explained that the members of the state’s legislative budget committee asked for the “worst case scenario” for each of the USG’s 35 institutions. Georgia Gwinnett’s share of the anticipated $300 million cut in the state’s higher education budget could be as high as $2.66 million – in addition to a previously proposed $4.3 million cut for fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1. To manage the additional cuts, GGC will have to eliminate 20 faculty and 12 staff positions, delay the start of its nursing program and cap enrollment at 3,000. Currently, GGC has about 3,400 students and expects a fall enrollment of 5,000.

“We’ve already worked hard to absorb GGC’s portion of the initial $265 million budget cut already assigned to the university system for fiscal year 2011,” Kaufman said. The college’s reduction in funding in Gov. Sonny Perdue’s proposed 2011 budget means that the college will be unable to hire faculty necessary to support the anticipated 5,000 student population, purchase books for the new Library and Learning Center slated to open later this year, or make technological upgrades in classrooms.

Kaufman asked for patience as the budgetary process played out.

“These are challenging times for all of us. Until the members of the legislature approve a state budget and the Board of Regents decides how that money will be allocated, we are going to continue to operate as usual,” he said. “Since our doors opened, the state has been in a financial downturn. From day one, we have enacted cost savings measures and will continue to do so. Our mission is to educate students and that is what we intend to do. We have a phenomenally dedicated faculty and staff of whom I am proud every day. I believe we will have 5,000 students on campus next fall and we will do whatever is necessary to see that they get the quality education they deserve.”

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