USC Aiken grapples with cuts

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Students at University of South Carolina Aiken will see fewer classes, crowded classrooms and less heating and air conditioning as the school continues to grapple with a $39 million reduction in state university system funding under way since June.

Earlier this week, USC President Harris Pastides announced the general impact of reductions in state appropriations. So far this fiscal year, USC Aiken has seen a $1.6 million drop in state funding - an appropriations cut of 14.7 percent, spokeswoman Jennifer Conner said.

More reductions are on the way.

"We know that we will get an additional 4 percent cut, but we do not have the date yet ," she said.

That would translate into a $373,658 loss, bringing the total to $1,978,165 since June.

The cuts will eliminate some part-time instructor contracts, but how many people will be out of work in Aiken is difficult to say, she said. Some full-time employees also have part-time duties, so while they might lose their part-time work, they will still be employed. Also, the cuts will mean some part-time faculty will teach fewer classes.

In addition, a hiring freeze will continue, meaning most vacancies will not be filled, Ms. Conner said.

"Right now there's not that many," she said. "The problem is if people leave, it's going to get worse."

Reach Sarita Chourey at (803) 727-4257 or sarita.chourey@morris.com.

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Funding Q&A

What to expect at University of South Carolina Aiken as administrators implement state funding cuts brought about by the ongoing economic decline and drop in state revenue:

Q: How cold will the classrooms get because of reduced heat?

A: They will go from 70-72 degrees to 68 degrees for the winter months.

Q: How much will class size change?

A: Our average class size is 18 students. We will add approximately three students to sections. But some classes, such as science labs or computer labs, won't see an increase, because they have a set number of stations or computers.

Q: The projected savings for heating and cooling is $50,000. How does this measure against overall heating/cooling expenditures ?

A: These changes, and other conservation measures, are estimated to save approximately 4.2 percent annually.

Q: How will the university address the rest of the $1.96 million cut?

A: In a variety of places, including - but not limited to - operational budget cuts, using our fund balance, using temporary employees to save fringe benefits costs where we can.

Source: USC Aiken Office of Communications


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