Chancellor: Budget cuts push schools to limit

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The University System of Georgia is getting closer to the breaking point at an increasing rate of speed, Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. said Friday.

He wouldn't say where that point is, but he said the economic reality is that budget cuts could lead to soaring tuition and ultimately a statewide cap on enrollment if state funding cuts continue.

Mr. Davis made the comments Friday during a meeting with The Augusta Chronicle and the presidents of Augusta State University and the Medical College of Georgia. He was in town visiting Augusta State as part of a regular tour of state campuses.

The chancellor said the university system has a shrinking budget and booming demand. In the past two years, the system added 23,000 students -- the equivalent of three Augusta States.

Budget cuts to other state agencies mean longer lines, shorter hours and taller grass, but cuts to higher education are different, Mr. Davis said.

"We are different from every state agency -- different, not better," he said. "It means you are flirting with the future ... If I can't hire the teachers, I can't teach the sections."

Augusta State President William A. Bloodworth Jr. said he is already experiencing that.

"It's crunch time for us," he said. "We are struggling to find the classes for students."

If classes are full, it takes longer for a student to graduate or the student drops out, he said.

Yet the chancellor has asked each college president to prepare for even more dire finances by submitting a list of 6 percent budget cuts by July 27.

To emphasize how significant that is, MCG President Daniel W. Rahn said a 10 percent cut would be "game-changing."

Mr. Davis said continued budget cuts will lead to capping the number of students allowed into certain programs, enrollment at entire institutions and eventually the total number of students in the state.

Capping enrollment and raising tuition limits access to higher education.

"I can't, naturally, say to the state 'Give me more,' " he said, noting that the university system accounts for about 12 percent of the state budget. "I don't mean to sound cataclysmic, but you undermine the democracy when you shrink the middle class."

Not on the table is any sort of delay of expanding Medical College of Georgia to Athens.

"We can't let the urgent get in the way of the important," Mr. Davis said.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or

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Riverman1 07/18/09 - 03:58 am
There is another, beneficial

There is another, beneficial side, to the belt tightening. Getting into collge is going to become more competitive and being admitted more valued. In addition, students are going to work harder once they get there to maintain their places. The austere times may serve to increase the quality of student. Natural cycles of expansion and contraction have inherent reasons. College admissions had gotten out of hand with too many unqualified students. The large number of college graduates has also diluted the importance of a degree.

Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 07/18/09 - 04:11 am
Sonny's got his. Obviously he

Sonny's got his. Obviously he doesn't care if anyone else has an opportunity to get his/hers.

Riverman1 07/18/09 - 04:34 am
There is simply no money.

There is simply no money. Georgia has a budget gap of $2.4 billion this year. Projecting out through 2011 it really gets scary. $3.9 billion in 2010 and even more in 2011. In the past, the big lie was that future growth would pay for everything. Well, not only are we not growing, we are contracting.

patriciathomas 07/18/09 - 05:20 am
Stupid comment, Craig Spinks.

Stupid comment, Craig Spinks. (4:11) The fact remains that if the school system dropped the "diversity" programs and the social engineering programs, they'd still be able to make budget. The "hardship" cases that have to learn rudimentary reading and math before starting their college careers will have to start learning in middle and high schools. The university system can go back to being a strictly higher education facility and the indoctrination aspects will have to wait until the lean times are over. The sports programs that can't support themselves will have to go. Our university system isn't in as much trouble as this article implies. It just has to make the smart choices.

noway 07/18/09 - 01:45 pm
Patricathomas...again, you

Patricathomas...again, you are out of touch. You have no idea the cuts that ASU and other system schools have made at the detriment of students. ASU is doing a great job with limited funds. The system is in trouble as is our state. Get a grip. Maybe you should leave your big house in Evans and get out and see the real world.

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