UH budget forces frugality


POSTED: Saturday, May 16, 2009

Some students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa who are not graduating today are concerned that the sounds of “;Pomp and Circumstance”; could be delayed for them as the university cuts classes and lecturers to balance the budget.





        The operating budget for the University of Hawaii system for fiscal year 2010:




UH West Oahu$11.7M$11.53M-$170,000
Community Colleges$192.8M$196.3M+$3.5M




        Source: UH Budget Office



Janice Okimoto, a senior majoring in music and education, is taking 21 credits this fall, two more than the normal maximum of 19, so she can graduate on time.

Okimoto said the guitar or ukulele class she needs for graduation is not being offered this fall. But her professors allowed her instead to take an Asian and Pacific music class, which includes some ukulele.

“;There's a lot of uncertainty,”; Okimoto said. “;When they do cut classes, it pushes our graduation further back ... and the longer we're here, the more it costs (as tuition rises).”;

UH-Manoa, the largest of the 10 UH system campuses, appears to be the hardest hit by budget cuts.

Besides fewer classes and the loss of some lecturer jobs, the cuts will mean a reduction in library days and hours, fewer student scholarships and higher costs to students for some classes.

UH-Manoa will see a $34 million cut in general funds, said Kathy Cutshaw, the vice chancellor for administration. About $23 million will be covered through federal stimulus money, research funds, a hiring freeze, energy savings, by not putting some extra tuition money into scholarships and by charging the Outreach College and the Laboratory School for overhead costs formerly funded by taxpayers, such as utilities, security, copies, mail and janitorial services.

The other $11 million will have to come through budget cuts, Cutshaw said.

UH-Hilo and UH-West Oahu are hoping that increased tuition money will offset their cuts, while the Legislature appears to have provided enough money to community colleges, which are seeing double-digit enrollment growth.

Part of the problem with planning for budget cuts at UH is that class registration started before the budget was approved by the Legislature, and the governor can still withhold money if the deficit gets worse.

“;The university has budget scenarios,”; said Paula Mochida, the interim UH-Manoa university librarian. “;The challenge has been we don't really know what it (the budget) will be.”;

Starting this summer, both libraries will be closed on Saturdays and evenings and will have limited hours and services on Sundays.

The reduced hours means security guards and student workers will have fewer hours, Mochida said.

“;We hate to do that, because some students depend on the part-time work,”; she said.

At the College of Education, fewer classes are being offered, and elective recreational classes are being transferred to the College of Continuing Education, where students will have to pay higher fees to take them.

It is possible some classes could be restored if the budget situation improves, but it is also possible there could be further cuts either in the fall or in the spring semester.

The music department, which depends on lecturers to teach a variety of instrument lessons and classes, seems to be particularly hard hit.

It is a double financial hit for some lecturers who will not be teaching this fall. Many of them are symphony musicians who are already missing paychecks.

“;We're just trying to hold the ship steady,”; said Laurence Paxton, the department chairman.

Last month a donor stepped forward to fund the salary of a faculty member to teach a piano class for about 30 students, Okimoto said.

The students petitioned the department to save the class after it appeared it would be dropped.

“;We are being impacted,”; Paxton said. “;We're trying to do the best we can under the circumstances, trying to be as clever and as resourceful as we can be.”;