Pierce assembled the faculty and staff Friday to detail the college’s plans to respond to another $2.4 million in budget cuts. The cuts at GHC amount to close to a quarter of the budget for fiscal year 2011.
One member of the staff said afterward: “This isn’t to the bone; it’s into the marrow.”
Pierce said the cuts he presented Friday morning represent a worst-case scenario, based on the legislature’s demand that the University System of Georgia Board of Regents cut between $200 million and $300 million from the fiscal year 2011 budget, which begins July 1.
Click here to see Associate Editor Doug Walker’s Face-to-Face interview with GHC President Randy Pierce.
Pierce said Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. told lawmakers they were basically asking him to close 23 of the 35 units of the university system.
The proposed cuts at GHC include:
Pierce exhorted the staff and personnel to contact lawmakers.
“It’s up to us to call to make sure they don’t decimate this institution that it took 40 years to build,” Pierce said.
Speaking via video conference from the Cartersville campus, professor Dudley Salley asked why not impose 15 to 20 percent cuts across the board.
Pierce responded, “It’s not strategic, it’s not surgical. I’m not going to stand up here and take the easy way out.”
A member of the staff in Rome pointed out that the Ways and Means Committee has a bill before it to restore a 1 percent sales tax on food items, which would raise more than $600 million annually. Pierce responded, “Your legislature is not willing to consider any tax increase as an option.”
Another member of the GHC staff in Rome asked if there would be any chance to reconsider other options, including pay cuts to meet the $2.4 million budget cut.
“This is a fluid situation,” Pierce answered. “These (the recommendations) were the best that we could come up with in 10 and a half hours of deliberations Thursday.”
College Public Relations Director Dana Davis said, “The long-term consequences will be very detrimental to the whole state of Georgia.”
Georgia Highlands’ enrollment for the spring semester was 5,199, up from 4,708 in the spring semester of last year — a 10.4 percent increase. Some 250 students are enrolled this spring at the Paulding campus, while another 80 are matriculating at Douglasville.
Davis confirmed that if the college has to shutter its campus in Douglasville, the school would have to pay a $1 million termination fee to get out of a lease on a facility that is currently being renovated for fall classes.
The 12-point action plan was expected to be submitted to the Board of Regents today. The Board of Regents is expected to make a final decision regarding the cuts by Monday.