Augusta State University nursing students and many others at the college can breathe a sigh of relief.
At a Wednesday news conference to detail ASU's latest master plan, ASU President William Bloodworth said potential state funding cuts for next year aren't looking as bleak and programs that might have been cut, including the nursing program, no longer seem in danger.
"The governor has made another proposal that gives us some hope," the president said. "I think it's highly unlikely we would be eliminating those programs."
Bloodworth said the governor's latest proposal is about a third of the cuts that had been discussed previously through the University System of Georgia Chancellor's Office, which had asked state universities to respond with a list of potential cuts should $300 million more in statewide funding be slashed for the next fiscal year.
Bloodworth said cuts that might come now would most likely be to nonacademic areas.
Originally, the university had spelled out a list of potential cuts that included the elimination not only of the nursing program at $1.6 million, but also the Continuing Education program at $167,000, the business MBA program at $400,000 and the drama program at $151,000.
Liza Klein, an ASU student who recently entered the college's new Bachelor of Science nursing program, said she had heard from a professor earlier this week that the program would likely be safe. She said having the university president say so Wednesday, though, was good affirmation.
"It's great news," she said, quickly noting that "of course, nothing's in writing yet, but I just didn't think they could cut nursing with the nursing shortage."
The ASU announcement came one day after Medical College of Georgia Provost Barry D. Goldstein said MCG had decided against eliminating any academic programs.
Goldstein said Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. had advised schools that the additional cuts to the system would be closer to $117 million instead of the $300 million lawmakers had suggested. At the time, MCG didn't give a new range of additional cuts to expect, and on Wednesday, Bloodworth said he also didn't have a new cut figure for ASU but that it would be less.