ROCK HILL, S.C. - In less than a week since the S.C. General Assembly and Governor Mark Sanford finalized a set of state appropriation cuts that will cost Winthrop University $3.4 million, administrators today rolled out the plan for coping with the crisis.
With students worried about the possibility of a major mid-year tuition increase and personnel wondering if furloughs were imminent, President Anthony DiGiorgio told the campus in a Thursday afternoon e-mail that neither is a part of the plan.
“These are unprecedented times, but not unmanageable times,” DiGiorgio said. “Winthrop is about preparing our students to live in an era of fast-moving global changes. This is an opportunity for our campus to teach by example – by working together, sharing sacrifices when we must and remaining focused on our mission.”
DiGiorgio said that Winthrop will absorb $3.2 million – 94 percent of the overall cut – internally. Pending trustees’ approval on Friday, students will be asked to pay a modest $50 “state appropriation reduction adjustment” – which equals less than 48 cents a day for spring semester.
“It’s less than the price of a soda a day,” DiGiorgio said, adding that to absorb any more of the cut internally would “get to bone.” On the other hand, he credited university staff who worked on the reduction plan with being “very, very sensitive to the pressure that students and families are under now, too.”
The $50 charge, DiGiorgio said, will generate the $215,000, the final 6 percent needed to make up the total amount the General Assembly cut after a global economic downturn arrived on top of state-adopted tax cuts that reduced state revenues.
By comparison, it would have cost $791 per student to generate the entire $3.4 million only through tuition, DiGiorgio said, but such a steep increase “was simply not an option for us, for our trustees or for families,” so it was never considered. Instead, DiGiorgio challenged his administrative team to find ways to cut that would protect the quality of students’ academic experiences, continue to emphasize safety and security and continue recruitment of the kind of student body for which Winthrop is known.
Student recruitment is increasingly the key to fiscal stability, DiGiorgio said, because state funding is proving to be so undependable for public universities. This year, Winthrop began a visual “branding” initiative that is part of that recruitment effort, and it will continue at a modest level, he said.
Meanwhile, the cut plan will involve cancelling or deferring some external events, as well as finding ways to trim other non-classroom expenditures. Examples include:
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