BSU students, staff brace for budget cuts

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Reality is beginning to sink in for students and staff at Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College. School officials announced 10 percent budget cuts on the two campuses totaling $5 million.

The cuts will include the elimination of 50 jobs, including about 40 faculty positions from 18 academic programs.

“We simply have too many majors. We can’t afford it,” said Richard Hanson, the new president of BSU and NTC.

Hanson’s plan calls for elimination of the environmental landscaping and massage therapy programs at NTC, and the art history program at BSU. Another BSU program is on the chopping block, but Hanson hasn’t publicly announced which one.

In addition, BSU will lose its men’s indoor and outdoor track and field programs.

Hanson describes the plan as a “recalibration” of resources. Some emerging programs in science and engineering will actually see more funding, as will the Native American studies program.

The loss of jobs will be tough for the community of Bemidji. But the cuts aren’t surprising, either, given the state’s $6.2 billion budget gap. What’s yet to be seen is whether the cutbacks will impact student enrollment, which has been on the rise the past few years.

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