Last Thursday, students, faculty and staff had a unique opportunity – they could ask President James Ramsey about how U of L plans to spend money in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, beginning July 1. Students and faculty alike attended the event in the Floyd Theater on April 16, eager to hear the plan for the upcoming year.
“This is the first year in ten years that we are not incurring a state budget cut,” Ramsey said.
The university president was painfully honest during the his presentation and explained that although there was no budget cut, there also would not be any money added to it.
“In the current year, we incurred a 1.9 percent budget cut.”
Ramsey went on to explain that there has been revenue growth in the state, but for whatever reason higher education has not been a major priority lately for Kentucky. Education has not even been given as much attention as the Parks Department as far as funding goes, said Ramsey. It seems that there simply is not any money left for higher education.
“It was interesting to hear about the state of the budget from a state funding standpoint, especially since I now know that there hasn’t been any money added or even left for higher education,” said Josh Fuqua, an engineering student.
Ramsey outlined the achievements of U of L despite state budget cuts. One was the increase in six year graduation rates, which is now at 53.6 percent from 30.1 percent in 1998.
One of the most impressive increases since 1998 is the amount of money spent on research at the university, with a total expenditure of $182.4 million in 2014. In 1998 the total expenditure in this area was only $39.1 million.
He also touched on more sensitive subjects during the presentation, like tuition increases. Ramsey explained that there will likely be a 3 percent increase in tuition rates for undergraduate and graduate schools.
In addition, the faculty and staff salary pool is scheduled for a 3 percent increase, said Ramsey. The hope is to retain beloved and brilliant educators and staff members at U of L.
Student Body President Monali Haldankar attended the budget forum. She says that students can help bring the problem of lack of funding in higher education to the state.
“It is clear that the budget problems affecting our school are a problem at the state level, as we are tied for last in state funding. The only way we will be able to change this is through constant student advocacy.”
The student recognition of the problem of higher education funding by the state seems to have struck a chord.
“That is something I will look at while deciding between candidates as this is an election year,” said Fuqua.
“We have had to be very creative with the funding that we do get and we will have to continue this trend until we do get more money from the state.
“We have all made sacrifices and it is important that we work together and that we continue to advocate at the state level because that is what is truly going set us forward, said Morgan Cooksey, SGA services vice president.
Photo by Rachel Essa / The Louisville Cardinal