Colorado, like 48 other states across the country reeling from budget problems caused by revenue shortfalls, cut state funding to CSU.
The Colorado State Legislature cut funding to CSU by $34.2 million, an almost 27 percent decrease from last year.
The shortage of funds required CSU to cut spending for the fiscal year. Fifty-two full-time faculty positions and 220 staff positions have been eliminated. The cuts led to reduced availability of courses, fewer course options and increased reliance on temporary faculty, according to a university press release.
“We are doing everything we can to maintain the quality of education here,” said Peter Nicholls, provost/academic vice-president. Nicholls said that if funding problems persist students should expect larger class sizes, less class availability and more instructors who are junior faculty.
Nicholls said students should try to register for classes as early as possible and stay flexible with the class times they are willing to take.
“Students need to be aware of the issues that are out there,” Nicholls said. “But be assured that people within the school and legislature are working to solve these problems.”
The Board of Governors of the CSU System approved a decision, this summer, to eliminate salary increases for faculty and staff for 2003-2004.
“This is not a cheap place to live and if you go without pay raises we may experience difficulty attracting and keeping faculty,” Nicholls said.
CSU President Larry Penley, in a recent interview, identified keeping qualified faculty as a major challenge for CSU as it deals with reduced state funding. Penley said the university would aggressively pursue other funding options though he could not rule out future tuition increases.
The budget cuts have hit students in the wallet as well as the classroom. CSU increased in-state tuition 9.5 percent. The University of Colorado-Boulder raised tuition 12.7 percent.
“I know a few people who have had real problems with the tuition increase,” said Sarah Lindholm, a senior apparel and merchandise design major. The average tuition increase is about $250 per academic year, according to a university press release.
Other universities are facing similar budget troubles. The University of Oklahoma raised tuition 28 percent and the University of Arizona increased tuition 39 percent.
Nation-wide tuition increases have attracted the attention of politicians in Washington, D.C. House Republican leaders have proposed a bill that would penalize universities for raising tuition significantly faster than the Consumer Price Index over several years, according to an article in the New York Times.
Tuition and fees at CSU increased 22.6 percent over the last five years, while the Consumer Price Index rose 13.7 percent in the same period, according the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.
The Collegian will run a series of articles on Tuesdays examining the effects of budget cuts on each of the university’s eight colleges.