St. Cloud State considers cutting aviation



Back in March, St. Cloud State announced that budget issues were forcing it to close 23 of its programs — or about 10 percent of its offerings.

The cuts grew to 26 programs, and yesterday the university targeted eight more for closure — including aviation.

Closing the program would have wider consequences, the St. Cloud Times reports:

Closing the aviation program would be another blow to the viability of St. Cloud Regional Airport, St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis said. The airport already has lost its commercial carrier and is in the middle of a private fundraising campaign to lure a carrier to fly a St. Cloud-to-Chicago route.

“The timing probably couldn’t be worse,” Kleis said of the St. Cloud State announcement.

What a closure would mean to the regional aviation labor supply is unclear. But one aviation blog — The Truth About the Industry — says that the business suffers from a glut of pilots, not a shortage, as some might believe:

If there ever was a pilot shortage, wouldn’t salaries be trending up and not down, as they have been in the past decade?  … What other job do you know of that requires a 4 year degree, tens of thousands of dollars of additional training, and only pays $10,000 to $30,000 per year in the first several years of one’s career? 

Aviation isn’t the only program under attack, considering that St. Cloud State says it needs to slice about $14 million from its fiscal 2012 budget — after cutting $6 million from its current fiscal year budget.

Other programs slated for closure: 

  • bachelor of science programs in applied computer science and general biology
  • masters programs in college counseling/student development, computer science, geography and history.

The university is considering consolidating or reorganizing another 25 programs or so.

University officials will meet over the matter Sept. 8-9. The president’s decisions should happen by Sept. 20.