University of Nebraska reveals areas to be impacted if proposed budget cuts become reality

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NU officials revealed on Tuesday which areas in each university will be impacted if Governor Pete Ricketts’ proposed budget cuts become reality.
Cassie Wade

University of Nebraska officials revealed last Tuesday which programs will be eliminated if the budget cuts proposed by Gov. Pete Ricketts become reality, according to an Omaha World-Herald article published on Feb. 14.

In January, Ricketts proposed to cut NU’s funding by $11 million this year and by $23 million next year. NU’s universities are preparing for the cuts in their own ways. Different degree programs and athletic programs face potential elimination at each university.

  • At UNO, the possibility of differential tuition for individual programs was briefly mentioned in an email sent to students by Chancellor Jeffrey Gold on Wednesday. Any differential tuition increases would only impact incoming students, not those currently enrolled, Gold said in the email. The email did not identify which programs would receive the potential differential increases if the cuts happen.
  • At UNL, the programs at risk of being eliminated include the bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in art history; bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in geography; and a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering.
  • UNK would lose several of its athletic programs, including baseball and men’s tennis and golf if the budget cuts situation doesn’t change. UNK’s College of Fine Arts and Humanities would be merged with the College of Natural and Social Sciences as well.
  • Differential tuition increases could impact degree programs in high demand at UNMC if the cuts become a reality.

Information about UNL, UNK and UNMC is sourced from an Omaha World-Herald article titled “’There’s no more building for the future’: Proposed cuts leave NU students, athletes in limbo,” published on Feb. 14, 2018.

The areas that would be impacted by cuts were announced a day before NU leaders were set to speak to the Nebraska Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, which makes budget recommendations to the Legislature.

UNO Student Body President Carlo Eby was one of the speakers at the hearing on Wednesday. Eby said he thought it went well.

“I think we told our stories the best we could, and we painted a good picture in regards to the importance of the University of Nebraska and its stakeholders,” Eby said.

Are students, faculty and staff taking notice of the potential impact of the proposed cuts?

UNO history major Sage Lutz said she has noticed the emails sent to students about budget cuts but has “been too worried” about her schoolwork to follow the cuts closely.

“I know it’s worrying, but I haven’t followed it,” Lutz said.

Lutz, a senior, said she will probably become more concerned with the cuts when she decides to pursue a master’s degree. Lutz said she thinks the cuts will cause “a never-ending cycle” and affect both UNO and its students.

“I think it puts a strain on the university because it not only puts a strain on them to keep costs down and keep the university running, but it’s going to put a strain on the students,” Lutz said. “Their tuition is going to go up and some people already have trouble paying their tuition.”

UNO art history professor Adrian Duran said that if UNL’s art history programs are eliminated, UNO will be impacted as well.

“We at UNO use UNL master’s students and graduates of their master’s program as faculty,” Duran said. “We use graduates of their MFA program as faculty. Without an art history program, the MA in art history is obviously gone but the MFA in study will be lessened. That will be a disservice to not only UNL’s graduate students but to UNO’s upper graduate students.”

Duran said the budget cuts situation is made more complicated because “these are real people losing real jobs.”

“I don’t know how to say it other than this is bad,” Duran said. “In this current climate of anti-university sentiment, of anti-tax sentiment, there aren’t many options left on the table that the government is willing to consider other than death by a thousand cuts to the university.”