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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Budget changes outlined, concerns surface

As the economy has jeopardized the financial security of colleges across the nation, Guilford must find $2.7 million dollars to fit the worse-case scenario budget. On Nov. 5, the Budget Committee hosted a panel outlining proposed budget cuts due to the financial crisis. Chair Heather Hayton outlined the measures taken to gather funds to make up for the college’s deficit, measures that include deferring salary increases and Strategic Long Range Plan (SLRP) initiative implementation and reducing expenditures and the size of the faculty and staff.

Cuts in the different parts of the budget average five percent, but some programs will be reduced more than others. While athletics and the president’s and finance offices take a two percent cut, facilities will lose 16 percent of its funding, and academic affairs 18 percent.

So far, the equivalent of 20 full-time positions have been cut from staff and faculty. Some areas will cut back hours of their staff.

“Due to the tightened budget, the Student Health Center cut the part-time nurse to four hours a week and the PA to six hours a week, starting Dec. 1,” said Helen Rice, director of student health. “I will remain here full-time. We anticipate being able to take care of everyone, just not as quickly as we would like.”

Meanwhile, Guilford is going forward with seven tenure-track searches while alumnus Dave Odom (’65) has been hired as a part-time assistant to the president. Some faculty members do not favor the decisions to move forward with hiring.

“We’re doing seven faculty searches right now,” said Vice President for Enrollment Services Randy Doss. “That’s very big news to people in the room (at the forum.) They didn’t know that. I think that (drew) some questions. It was new to me.”

“It is clear that there is some sensitivity when some people on the staff are being dropped and then we hear that a very high profile person has been hired,” said mathematics professor Rudy Gordh. “Others may hear, ‘oh and certain departments are searching for tenure track positions’ while somebody on the staff is waving goodbye. That certainly is awkward.”

Gordh’s department is actively looking to fill a position that was needed long before the economic crisis. Once hired, the new professor will contribute to both the mathematics and business department with the teaching of statistics.

The facilities department is the most affected by the budget cuts in terms of labor. Because so much of the department’s budget goes to fixed costs, cutting jobs is the most obvious way to save expenditures. Associate Vice President of Operations and Facilities Jon Varnell stated his concern over the cuts at the panel.

“When you get to talking about trying to get $500,000 dollars out of our area, labor has to come into the equation. So we took it hard,” said Varnell. “Our concern is that people will forget down the road that these reductions took place, and service expectations don’t mirror the staffing that we’ve got.”

Enrollment has also adjusted to the budget and is seeking creative ways to reach out to prospective students. One new strategy has been for the admissions office to send current Guilford students to their former high schools over break to promote the college. Despite measures like these, the Office of Admissions is prepared to face having a lower number of incoming students next year.

“We’re trying to be honest with ourselves and our budget. We’re anticipating a very tough year in enrollment,” said Doss. “We’re going to work hard, we’re going to try, but there are a lot of things out there that we can’t control that impact our daily lives.”

Members of the community have brainstormed other measures for coping with a smaller budget. Hayton called for “creative adaptation” during this time. Max Carter has been vocal in proposing some Quaker-based initiatives.

“I wondered whether there were some ways we could draw on who we say we are about our core principles and the Quaker testimonies and come up with creative but realistic responses.”

Some of Carter’s ideas include the option of a voluntary 20 percent pay cut for older faculty and staff who are more financially secure. The cut would not affect benefits and would acknowledge the full-pay rate for retirement funds. Others ideas include community-based operations including an open garden, a woodpile, and potluck dinners on campus.

“If that would go to a common pool, that would help keep us from axing the people who typically get axed at the bottom,” said Carter. “Certainly I believe that we could all reduce our standard of living and not feel much pain at all.”

Originally $3.5 million, the budget deficit dropped to $2.7 million when Oleta Brame, who attended Guilford for one year in the 1920s, left her entire $800,000 dollar estate to Guilford.

The budget is not final so far and members of the committee will continue to rework it.

“It is a multistage process . In January we will come to you with a proposed budget with the understanding that it is still in flux in many ways,” said Hayton. “As we get better numbers for enrollment, a better sense of retention and graduation, as we get a better sense of the financial markets and what is going to happen, we will continue to come back to the budget and continually revise it often, potentially all the way up to October.

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