The ax fell on Indiana public higher education Tuesday, and Indiana State University took the hardest hit in its proportional share of the cuts.

The Commission for Higher Education recommended that ISU’s budget be cut 6.64 percent, or about $10.5 million, over the remaining 18 months of the state’s two-year budget cycle.

“It’s not my finest afternoon,” said ISU president Dan Bradley. ISU officials were hoping the cuts would be limited to ISU’s proportional share of the overall state higher education appropriation, or about $9 million.

Ivy Tech Community College’s budget was cut 3.49 percent, while Purdue’s was slashed 6.05 percent.

Gov. Mitch Daniels ordered a $150 million cut in state higher education spending because tax revenues are far below previous projections.

The commission made it clear that colleges such as ISU with higher state funding per student and those not making as much progress toward degree completion goals would be cut more than other schools.

“I think that reinforces our need to increase our instate enrollment and retention” and improve graduation rates, Bradley said. More students will help lower the appropriation per student.

For ISU, the cuts amount to $3.8 million over the next six months and $6.67 million in fiscal year 2011, which starts July 1.

ISU has the biggest proportional share of cuts, but not the largest dollar amount.

Bradley does not believe the cuts are unfair. “Everyone at ISU, including me, understands the state is experiencing tough times and we have to be part of the solution,” he said. “I think we’re satisfied we were listened to [by the Commission] and we’ll just suck it up and go forward.”

He anticipates one-time cuts to get through the current fiscal year, and permanent cuts to the base budget starting July 1, which is the start of the 2011 fiscal year.

Last Friday, Bradley announced to the ISU community that the university has begun developing a cost-reduction plan that will include early retirement incentives and elimination of positions.

More than likely, some people will lose their jobs, he said.

Bradley has set a timeline for developing a budget-reduction plan.

The first week in January, the vice presidents, along with Faculty Senate officers, the president of the Staff Council and a representative of executive/administrative/professional employees will meet “to respond to and provide input on budget recommendations,” Bradley said.

Draft budget recommendations will be made available to the entire campus community by Feb. 1 for discussion and comment before the Feb. 19 board of trustees meeting.

After further refinement, final decisions about position elimination for the 2010-11 fiscal year will be made by April 1.

A retirement incentive plan that has been presented to the Staff Council and the Faculty Senate for review “is an important part of both the short- and long-term strategy,” Bradley stated in his e-mail communication to campus last week. “It will give us flexibility in the short term and minimize the need for involuntary job elimination.”

Bradley said Tuesday that ISU will look at all of its programs, not just academics, as it considers eliminating some. “We’ll look at everything we do to see which things we do are most important to our goals and mission and what things may be tangential to that — and try to make the cuts accordingly,” he said.

ISU’s goal is “to make sure we have a balanced budget going into the next biennium,” which starts July 1, 2011.

ISU has to be conservative in how it approaches the budget cuts, he said. If the economy doesn’t improve in the next 18 months, the state may not be able to restore the funding cuts.

“We’ll probably be conservative in what we think ongoing funding will be,” Bradley said. That will mean permanent cuts to the base budget.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or

Trending Video