by Zack Downing, Staff Writer
With another school year comes new faces, new work, and a lot of new ways to get involved on campus.
For the administrative offices at UMass Dartmouth, it also means financial analysis and budget cuts.
UMass Dartmouth has gone through many adjustments, in terms of its internal affairs. The university now has an interim chancellor, Peyton Helm, for the first time since the college has had its current name.
Additionally, the campus has undergone two large construction projects.
First, the Charlton College of Business was greatly expanded to include classrooms, an auditorium, and a lobby area.
Second, the center of campus is being renovated, to work on pipes and modify the current walkways to make several sets of stairs behind the Campus Center.
Most recently, state funding for education was cut, and enrollment has been declining. At the beginning of the semester a budget update was sent out from the Office of the Chancellor, discussing funds and potential processes for the 2016-2017 school year. Helm writes, “Our highest priority is protecting the quality of our students’ educational experience.”
In the report, it is noted that due to Massachusetts funding, $8 million of what is usually rationed for salary increases and benefits was unaccounted for. If they accepted that sitting down, dozens of workers would be laid off and other amenities at the college would be strapped for money.
The plan to begin to close that $8 million gap was to first raise the tuition by $300 a semester, an unpopular plan among students. Senior Psychology major Chanice Ball-McKenney commented, “We already pay enough out of pocket, and for the university to ask more from us is ridiculous.”
However, that $300 increase nearly cuts the deficit in half, raising $3.5 million.
The next step in the process was to cut funding for several other items around campus. For example, non-personnel operations, such as the wind turbine, were cut by ten percent. The report also said transportation services would experience that budget cut, as well as some designated funds for housing and dining.
In terms of employees and their salaries, Helm wrote that little to no layoffs would happen in 2016-2017, which was one of the goals of the budget. Instead, seventeen temporary positions that didn’t seem essential were left out of the budget before new hires came in. Some other vacant positions were kept that way to save money before they were absolutely necessary.
The final step will be in upcoming months, in which Helm says, “We will need to review our activities and programs to determine which are essential and which may no longer be mission-critical.”
It seems like in the future some programs might be receiving the axe to save money for the university. As of now, the budget deficit has been nearly sealed and changes on campus, such as transportation, are starting to show.
He concludes the address by saying difficult times will help test and mold our college, and we will come out of this better and stronger. There is the hope from the Chancellor that Massachusetts raises educational funding in the coming years, and that UMass Dartmouth will continue to thrive.