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All-Campus Meeting Airs Budget
Questions and Concerns
Lewis-Clark State faculty and staff, along with a handful of students and other
interested parties, gathered Wednesday to hear administrators talk about the college's
future. The crowd filled the Williams Conference Center to capacity, as LCSC's president
Dene Thomas presented a "State of the College" address.
Attendees were anxious to hear how Thomas planned to address a likely near-11% holdback in
state funding for fiscal year 2003. Since taking on the presidency last August, Thomas has
been handed dramatic reductions in state funding. The state, faced with a shortfall in
revenue, has reduced funding to state agencies, including higher education.
Lewis-Clark State administrators have already had to deal with two holdbacks-one for 2%
and another for 1% -as 2001 ended; followed by another 3% that would impact FY 03. The
first two holdbacks affected fiscal year 2002, which the college is already more than half
In her presentation, illustrated by a series of Power Point slides, Thomas outlined LCSC's
history and accomplishments to date before moving on to how the college would begin to
meet the budget challenge. Thomas has said she will use an approach that fully integrates
budget planning with the strategic planning effort already underway. She said the budget
response would avoid "across-the-board, salami-slice cuts," saying such an
approach would "weaken everyone."
Thomas said that, even with the offset from a 12% increase in student fees, the college
will find itself with an over-$900,000 bill to pay, if the 11% holdback becomes reality.
She noted the 11% figure is the governor's recommendation; the legislature must still act.
The state may not advise schools until later this spring regarding the final number they
will get to work with for their FY 03 budgets.
With that preface, she identified the following as some of the options being considered:
-Reducing costs of programs and operations-targeting reductions to reflect
and support LSCS strategy
-Delaying discretionary outlays-reviewing the need to refill current
-Increasing grant funding to key programs
-Utilizing available technology wherever possible to reduce and control costs
-Re-examining course fees
Other options being considered or undertaken included; reducing LSCS's general education
core-currently the highest in the state-to 38 credits; reducing the ratio of adjunct to
regular faculty; reducing faculty release time; and making targeted reductions in
personnel and budgets for administration and student affairs.
Following her presentation, Thomas fielded questions and reiterated her commitment to
sustaining the college's central missions and preserving program quality. She described
the situation as a work in progress, promising to consider impacts each action might have
on personnel and the campus climate. "We have hard choices to make and we're going to
try to make them as early as we can," she said, adding, "There's no way to say
everyone will be happy with everything we do, but we'll weigh each action on its own