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Proposed Ky. budget hits hard

If Governor Steve Beshear gets his way U of L will lose $3.5 million next year. His two-year budget cuts  higher education by 2.5 percent, a loss of about $23 million  for state colleges and universities.

The state legislature will modify the bill until it will be voted upon in April. “Nobody really knows what the final product will look like,” said Joseph Steffen, the chair of the faculty senate.

“I can’t really imagine that there wouldn’t be a tuition increase,” said Steffen. The university is currently researching ways to prevent this and the student group Cards in Action (CIA) is lobbying in Frankfort against the hikes.

Potentially endless cuts

The University of Louisville has been able to make tremendous strides despite incurring 14 cuts in funding in 14 years. The $3.5 million U of L will miss is miniscule compared to the overall budget of around $1 billion.

“People will feel it. It will be obvious,” said Steffen. “It keeps us from standing in place…even more, it keeps us from moving ahead.”

The new reduction in the budget has numerous predicted impacts upon students’ ability to afford college, paychecks for faculty, funding U of L hospital and keeping pace with the 21st Century Initiative.

The cuts could even deeply affect the amount of scholarship money given to students, including the Cardinal Covenant scholarship and programmatic-based scholarships. “If we can’t keep…those programs up to speed, we’re going to start losing good students too,” said Steffen.

Tuition could easily increase as a result. “Some, most, all of that will come out of student pockets,” Steffen said. “No one wants tuition to go up. Everyone will work their hardest to keep it to the minimum that will have to happen.”

Since the budget is still in its beginning stages, it is not entirely known what specific effects the budget cuts will have on the university, although much is at stake.  Along with the university, students are voicing their concern of cuts directly to those responsible.

Positive propositions

Despite the negative impact on the university, there are some potentially positive parts of the proposed budget.

One of the main parts of the budget is funding for the construction of a new classroom building on the Belknap campus.

This building comes as a relief since a study revealed out of Kentucky colleges, the University of Louisville had some of the most severe space limitations on campus. This has limited the amount of space available for students to take electives at desired times.

The new building is projected to be technologically equipped and more conducive to group lectures. Although the new building is in its infancy, a prime location noted for this project has been the space between the Natural Sciences building and Grawemeyer Hall.

Another positive point in the proposed budget is access to $15 million for the University of Louisville through the Bucks for Brains program, which has been unfunded for a number of years.

Bucks for Brains started in 1997 to bring widely-known and accomplished faculty to Kentucky colleges  to advance research at universities, communities and the commonealth. In order to access these funds, the university must match the state dollar-for-dollar from fundraising.

Legislative response

Since the governor revealed his budget, the state legislature has been hard at work trying to understand and amend the bill. Legislators have been meeting with university officials, students and various economic experts.

“Upset is probably too strong of a word. I think that [state legislators] are concerned,” said Dana Mayton, the senior associate vice president for governmental affairs for U of L.

“They are very much still in the information-gathering stage,” said Mayton. “They go through a very deliberative process both with public hearings and then also with their own staff doing research behind the scenes.” Some of this research includes how it will not only affect higher education , but how it will also affect students.

“I think the challenge for them is how do you re-balance. Where do you find the money to make up for cuts like ours,” Mayton said.

The state legislature is working with the University by holding one-on-one meetings with university officials and President Ramsey has visited Frankfort many times this session already.

Students take action

The University of Louisville has Kentucky’s only continuous student-lobbying program. Cards in Action was formed this year and is composed of various students who are quite vocal about the budget cuts.

“The goal of Cards in Action is to put a student perspective on rising tuition and on resource issues that we are facing,” said Carrie Mattingly, who is one of the coordinators for Cards in Action and current Student Government Association president.

Focusing on the issues of the proposed budget, Cards in Action is working on three main points when they talk with  legislators: closing the 2.5 percent overall cut in education funding, advocating for the new Belknap campus classroom building and ensuring the success of the Bucks for Brains program.

Cards in Action has put testimony from students across campus at the forefront. Some students are having to become part-time at the university, take time off, work more or take out more loans to afford increasing tuition. Because classroom space is at a premium some students can’t schedule electives because there are not enough rooms at the right time.

The initiatives have been very successful. Cards In Action met legislators twice this year. Some legislators had a positive response, while others remain on the fence.

The group hopes to meet with legislators two more times before the revised budget is adopted.

University’s approach

While Cards in Action is placing the student perspective on the possible cuts, the university has been implementing ways to reduce the inevitable hit.

The most notable of these initiatives is the university’s Tax Increment Financing districts. The university’s TIFs work by having the university build an office building where renting businesses pay a tax. Part of this tax goes to the government while the other part goes directly to the university.

The most notable of these projects is the Belknap Engineering and Applied Sciences Research Park south of  the J.B. Speed School and Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

“We’re trying to find other ways to generate money other than just tuition,” Steffen said. “These districts are going to end up paying the university over 20 or 30 year periods.”

In addition to effective fundraising, university officials are constructing and evaluating different ways to wisely decrease spending and implement more efficient business practices in order to offset the possible cuts.

Since state budget cuts began in 2001, the U of L has implemented stewardship, cost reduction and efficiency efforts that saved in the $115 million. The university has reduced spending despite the sharp cuts in state funding. Despite the proposed cuts, the university will most likely be able to continue on the same trajectory.

“We’ve looked to cut costs and save money wherever we can, but still manage to give some raises to employees. There haven’t been any widespread layoffs,” said Mark Hebert, the director of media relations for the university. “We haven’t had to cut a lot of services, we haven’t had to cut student programming.”

The potential result

Since the final version of the budget will not be up for a vote until April, it is too early to gauge how these proposed cuts will affect specific functions and students. “It’s really early in the process. We’re not going to know what we’re getting or not getting until the middle of April,” says Hebert.

Regardless of the processes at work, the proposed budget includes many high and low points for the U of L.  Bucks for Brains and the new classroom building are in limbo as the state legislature debates and revises the budget.

One thing is for certain says Hebert. “There’s no question that there are going to continue to be tuition increases for students. The question is how much are they going to have to be to offset the cuts that we’ve got and to keep the academic standing and the academic standards that we’ve met…and to keep us moving forward.”

“We’re on the ground everyday, fighting the good fight,” said Mayton.

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In The News: What you missed while you were in class

By Olivia Krauth–

ACTOR FOUND DEAD

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Sunday.  He was 46. The cause of death was an apparent drug overdose, and was found by screenwriter David Katz. At the time of press, law enforcement stated that they were investigating a death at his address. Hoffman was best known for his Academy-Award-winning performance in “Capote.”

SETH MEYERS LEAVES SNL

Seth Meyers has left Saturday Night Live. He leaves after working there for 12 years, five of those being on “Weekend Update.” Many of the show’s alumni, including Amy Poehler, returned for his final episode. Meyers will replace Jimmy Fallon as the host of “Late Night.”

U OF L STUDENT WINS MISS BLACK KY

U of L senior LaPrecious Brewer has been named Miss Black Kentucky USA 2014. Brewer, a communication and Pan-African studies double major, was selected for the title after an application and interview process. She will go on to compete in the Miss Black USA pageant in Miami, Fla. this August.

PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL SAYS SIX MORE WEEKS

Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter this past Sunday. The rodent saw its shadow early this past Sunday, signaling that winter will continue for six more weeks. The tradition has been going on since 1887, and gained popularity with the 1993 film “Groundhog Day.”

Photo courtesy BuzzFeed

Campus Creeper: Person of interest questioned, let go

Lucas Logsdon–

I suppose the extreme cold is able to keep everyone indoors, including the campus creeper. As of today, nothing has been reported of the “suspicious man” driving a white 1990 Volvo.

University Police did question a “person of interest” on Tuesday. Lt. Col. Kenny Brown said “no criminal charges are going to be pursued at this time,” as a result of that questioning.

The suspect is a “tall, thin, white male in his 30’s,” and drives a white 1990 Volvo. He has been asking women for directions as bait to lure women into his car, and has been known to try to use force.  He has been reported near Miller Hall, in the parking lot next to Stansbury Park and around St. James Court in Old Louisville.  He is wanted for questioning.

If you have any information, please call the University Police at 502-852-6111.

 

This is a developing story.

 

 

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“Suspicious person” spotted on campus

Lucas Logsdon–

If you have seen a white, 1990’s Volvo station wagon around campus, keep your distance. The driver of this vehicle has been trying to lure unsuspecting women into his car simply by asking for directions.  However, directions are not what he’s after.

A safety bulletin from the University of Louisville states “a suspicious person has been spotted asking for directions near several residence halls and in Old Louisville in recent days.”

“(We are) trying to get as much information as we can,” said Lt. Col. Kenny Brown in a press conference earlier today.  “We would like to find this person and see exactly what they were doing because at this point, it is not against the law to ask for directions, but certainly if you are trying to get someone inside the car and use force it is.”

The safety bulletin went on to describe the suspect as a “tall, thin, white male in his 30’s.” If you have any information, please call the University Police at 502-852-6111.

This is a developing story. 

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Kentucky unemployment sends mixed signals

Kentucky’s most recent unemployment statistics tell a misleading story. Although unemployment in the Bluegrass fell from 8.2 percent in November 2013 to 8.0 percent in December 2013, there lies a tale of two numbers.

“Kentucky’s labor market has been shrinking for the last six months. The labor force…is now at the same level as five years ago in December 2008,” Manoj Shanker, an economist at the Office of Employment and Training, stated in a release. “The decline is a combination of demographic changes, notably the retirement of baby boomers, and the ‘discouraged worker syndrome’ in which individuals leave the workforce because they don’t have the skills needed for the job market or are otherwise disenchanted.”

According to a press release from the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, the Kentucky workforce as of December 2013 was at 2,047,213, which is 11,634 less than November 2013. Out of the 11 industries other than farming, six are showing either no gain or a loss of workers. These failing industries include information, maintenance and religious organizations, government, finance, construction and manufacturing.

“My town [Paducah] is going through a hard time with unemployment. The United States Enrichment Corporation plant there is gradually shutting down and a lot of people are having to move away because of it,” says U of L freshman Chad Behbehani. According to USEC’s website, the plant in Paducah “is the only U.S.-owned and operated uranium enrichment facility in the United States.” It employed 800 workers, which now all must find new jobs.

Shanker provides reasoning to the widespread decrease in manufacturing: “Employment patterns have shifted so that manufacturing companies tend to favor outsourcing…this helps to keep costs under control and statistically moves jobs out of manufacturing and in to the business service sector.”

However, it is not all doom and gloom. There are some meager, but still promising employment numbers.

Important sectors, such as health and education; trade, transportation, utilities; and others posted gains in employment. As a whole, the amount of unemployed people decreased by 5,963 and in all of 2013, Kentucky’s non-farm employment rose by 6,100 jobs.

Although Kentucky seems to be decreasing unemployment, some sectors are losing jobs while other gain their losses. Kentucky still has quite a bit to go in order to match the nation’s 6.7 percent unemployment from December 2013. Kentucky has the 8th highest unemployment rate in the country.

 

Photo courtesy Ekbnews.blogspot.com

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New resident parking lot opens

201314parkingBy Kylie Noltemeyer–

Finding a good parking spot on campus can sometimes seem like one of the most challenging parts of the day. Going up and down the aisles can become almost hair pulling experience that could leave anyone frazzled. That is why students were so excited about the new residential parking lot opening up in between Bettie Johnson and Kurz Halls.

The parking lot had been in the works since 2009. At the beginning of the fall 2013 semester, a little over half of the parking lot was available for student use. Then, with only a few exceptions, the remainder of the spots became available for students to use in early December. This yellow residential parking lot, with a few faculty blue areas, is made up of nearly 1000 spots, making it much easier for students to find parking.

No existing residential areas in the lot made the switch to faculty areas when the full lot became available to students.

The feedback on the new parking lot has been highly positive. Freshman Karina Baldwin could not wait to begin taking advantage of this new parking lot. Baldwin said, “I was very excited about the new lot opening up. Not only does it look nice, but I love not having to walk so far to get to my car.”

Sophomore Sophie St. Martin agreed, saying, “The search for spots has become much easier since the new parking lot opened up. It is nice especially with the weather being so cold lately that my car is conveniently closer.”

The addition was clearly a success in the eyes of the majority of U of L’s residents. Despite its favorable views, the parking lot office has commented that to their knowledge, this will be the only parking lot addition on campus for a while. This parking lot with its 1000 spots, will definitely do for now though.

 

 

Miller Mold: gone for good?

By Olivia Krauth–

More than 100 students returned to a cleaner, safer dorm as 56 rooms in Miller Hall received new, mold-free wardrobes over winter break. The project is one of the last steps in ridding Miller Hall of mold infestations appearing since fall 2012.

The director of university housing says any second or third floor rooms not previously affected by mold this past semester received new wardrobes and had floor tiles repaired.

Students who got new wardrobes over break had to completely move out of their room to make room for the project. U of L Housing provided on-site storage for belongings, along with movers to assist in the process. Shannon Staten reports that there were no student complaints regarding the winter break process.

Freshman French and communications double major William Dalen Barlow was one of the students who returned to a nicer room. He says that he did not really have any major issues with the move out process.

“It was just a little frustrating having to move everything and box up the things I didn’t want to take home, but everything was taken care of and it was back where it was supposed to be (upon returning),” said Barlow.

The university hopes this project was the last mold-related changes facing the second and third floors. All the molding wardrobes had been on those floors–forcing some students to move out earlier in the fall semester. The first and fourth floors have not had any reported mold, but their wardrobes will be replaced in May once students move out for the summer.

The work on the freshman-only residence hall has raised some questions why it took two major mold outbreaks to address the problem. Staten said housing has done nothing but follow expert advice to solve the problem.

“We did everything last year we were advised we should do,” said Staten. “At that time, the experts thought the wardrobes would be okay to stay  We thought we had taken care of it, but then apparently the wardrobes were just old enough too, that they absorb moisture that they started creating a problem this fall.”

At press time the university was still gathering the expense total for the most recent work.

Some work in hallways and a few rooms in The Complex was also completed while students were away. The Complex rooms have been known to have mold as well, but the infestations were less severe than Miller.

While it appears the mold problem is solved for now, Staten says that this is not the end of long-term mold work for housing.

“We are still investigating doing some long-term work in Miller, like some fresh air intake,” said Staten. She said that this work will take place sometime in the “next few years.”

Past efforts to clean up the mold resulted in residents needing to move to other dorms while workers completely cleaned their room. This time, residents seemed to be “very happy” upon returning to their dorm after break, according to Staten.

When asked what his initial reaction was to his upgraded room, Barlow said, “It was so much nicer. I love the new floors and the new wardrobes. It’s so much better than the old rooms.”

Baby, it’s cold outside: first day is a snow day

By Lubna Hindi –

Thousands of U of L students were huddled around their phones and TV’s Sunday evening awaiting news from the university announcing the cancelation of classes for the next day. At 5:43 p.m. the sweet sound of text and email notifications rang loud and proud throughout the campus as news came that U of L classes and offices would be closed on Monday.

Jan. 6 was supposed to be the first day of classes in the second semester, but with severe weather threatening the health and well being of the students, U of L decided to cancel classes.

The decision came from the Associate Provost of Undergraduate Affairs Gale Rhodes after consulting the department of environmental health and safety, the Physical Plant, police and agencies around town.

This cancelation is nothing out of the ordinary for U of L Spokesperson John Drees, who’s been making announcements for U of L for more than 20 years. He says that the decision was made with student safety in mind. When conditions are predicted to be this bad, the university has been known to cancel classes the day before. With the possibility of freezing rain and snow, having to encounter sidewalks and parking lots would be dangerous. By canceling classes, possible car accidents and students falling and becoming injured are prevented.

With a wind chill of -20 degrees throughout the day, everyone is advised to stay inside and stay warm with the dangers of hypothermia running extremely high. U of L sent out an email Friday evening with tips on how to face these extreme temperatures, urging students to stay inside if they can and what to carry with them if they absolutely had to go out.

With any cancelation or delay, there’s bound to be an effect on classes. Some professors like John Begley and Neal Stolowich don’t have classes on Monday and there’s no major effect on their schedules, but others lose a day and end up having to push back everything to accommodate.

“I would have preferred to have started the semester as planned, but obviously nature has different plans,” said Begley, “It is good to know before morning how the University plans to handle the situation, so I’m glad they decided earlier enough for alternative work plans to be made.  Ultimately everything that needs to be done for classes will have to get done, just a shorter time frame to accomplish it.”

If there had to be a cancelation this semester, it seems like the first day of the semester would be perfect.

“Cancelling the first day of class is probably better then most other times,” said Stolowich. “For instance, in these recitation sections to be lost today not much is lost- its more or less an introductory session. Later in the semester, a quiz could have been lost. The professors impacted by the cancellation have the whole semester to make up the lost class. Later on, its not so easy- especially if you have an exam planned for that day.”

Although these cancellations leave the professors to rearrange their schedules, they all agree it was the best decision made with the student and faculty’s safety in mind.

Students, although welcoming this extended winter break, are also worried about how this might affect their classes. When asked how she felt about the snow day, freshman Sravya Veligandla said, “I’m equally glad and not glad. I’m not glad because my favorite classes were on Monday and Wednesday. Tuesday’s my longest day so I would hate for it to be my first day back.”

“It might push us behind in lab, but I don’t think it will have too much impact on my schedule. I’m happy to have an extra day, but at the same time I’m not happy we’re missing the first day of the semester,” said student Kirsi Lancaster.

Classes are expected to be back in session and running on normal schedule on Tuesday. But until then, enjoy the day off and stay warm.

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State of the University Address

By: NATALIE MOSER

From two o’clock to three forty-five on Thursday afternoon students rejoiced in the campus-wide class cancelation, due to President Ramsey’s State of the University Address. This yearly event commemorated last year’s achievements and revealed plans for the upcoming year. President Ramsey was escorted to the Comstock Music Hall by the thundering parade of the Louisville Cardinal drum line. The march from the University Club to Comstock was an impressive sight to see, the power and intensity of the drum line could be seen, and heard from far off. As the crowd settled into Comstock Hall and President Ramsey began his speech the prestigious atmosphere was created with a multitude of tasseled caps, and gowned professors. Ramsey began his address with regard to the university’s abundant success last year, in football, baseball, and of course our national basketball championship. Not only however, was the focus set on athletics, attention was quickly shifted to academics. President Ramsey made notice of the astounding fact that the incoming 2012 freshman class was the best academically prepared class in the university’s history, and the even more astounding fact, that this year’s incoming freshmen are even more prepared than last year’s.

Looking forward, the president announced four steps that he and the faculty established for this year’s advancement. The outlined goals for this year were: to implement new multi-disciplinary subject areas into school programs, become more globally engaged through university and student outreach, create equal opportunities for all types of students (traditional and non-traditional), and lastly to gather public funds for the university in order  to pull back from reliance on state funding. With power and integrity the University of Louisville will go forth to carve these goals into reality, knowing that we have the abilities it takes to succeed. Ramsey attests that our past successes will fuel our future efforts.  Through an informative, polished speech students and faculty walked away empowered and motivated for an extraordinary year to come.