Interim President Easton releases proposal to achieve balanced budget
Dickinson State University has released a proposal to achieve a balanced budget for the next biennium.
“In the current biennium, DSU faced a budget shortfall of more than $7M. Today, I released my proposal as a response to the current Dickinson State budget reality,” said Interim President Steve Easton. “The proposal is based to a large extent upon the work of the DSU Budget Task Force, the DSU Cabinet, and the Chairs of the Academic Departments. To make these decisions, I have also reviewed budget, programmatic, statistical, and related information.”
The proposal will be submitted to the Chancellor of the North Dakota University System and the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education, and when approved will result in a balanced budget for the University. The plan includes the use of $2.2M of institutional reserves and identifies $5.3M in reductions in areas funded with appropriated and non-appropriated dollars. The reductions will be achieved through cuts to operational budgets and savings from vacated positions that were left unfilled, early retirements and voluntary separations, and the elimination of academic programs and occupied positions. Some of these reductions have already been implemented.
The proposal includes the elimination of six academic programs and 14 currently filled positions.
To identify opportunities for savings, an evaluation of programs was completed. The evaluation considered organizational structure, the number of students enrolled, and the number of program graduates in the last three years.
The academic programs being discontinued include the B.A. in Spanish, B.A. in English, B.S. in Mathematics, B.A. in Art, B.S. in Art Entrepreneurship, and B.S. in Art Education. While the bachelor’s degrees in English and Mathematics are being phased out, DSU will continue to prepare future educators in these fields, maintaining a B.S. in English Education and a B.S. in Mathematics Education.
“We have to listen to what our students are telling us they want,” said Easton. “As difficult as this decision has been, the current and historical enrollment numbers in these programs are indicators of the student voice.”
There are 23 students who have declared majors in one of these programs of study. Of these, 10 have applied for spring graduation or will have a clear teach out plan and 13 will be encouraged to work with their advisor regarding a path for degree completion.
Faculty who are impacted due to programmatic cuts are under contract and will continue to teach courses for the remainder of their contract period. For most this is through the spring semester, which ends in May. One has a contract period of one year. Staff affected by the reductions in this proposal have been given a two-week notice and are being offered a month of severance pay and health benefits continuing through the month of March.
There are 14 currently occupied positions affected by this proposal. Since June 2019, there have been an additional 22 positions that have been reduced through unfilled vacancies, early retirements, and voluntary separations. In total, the University has lost 36 positions, including three director level positions, 17 staff positions, and 16 faculty positions.
“The life of an institution, like the life of a human being, has tough days and good days. This, most definitely, is one of the really tough days. But there are better days ahead,” said Easton. “Though we will certainly miss all who have left or will leave us, DSU still has amazing human and other assets. Once we put the budget difficulties behind us, we can pivot and concentrate on what is good about DSU—and there is a lot to celebrate in that category.”
The open forum to discuss the budget reduction proposal will be held on the Dickinson State University campus Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 12 p.m. in Beck Auditorium, Klinefelter Hall. This forum is open to the public.
The full budget reduction proposal can be found here .