ETSU announces cutbacks

ETSU announces cutbacks

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - A local university is cutting back as school leaders say they need to rein in spending.

The announcement at East Tennessee State University means some changes are coming.

Today, the university's president, Dr. Brian Noland, outlined several changes in the wake of a drop in student enrollment.

"The primary revenue source that drives the operation of this university is through tuition and fees," said Dr. Noland.

Noland addressed the media Monday afternoon, saying enrollment has been less than expected for three years and the senior executive leadership team has outlined some changes to make up for the drop in revenue.

Those changes include:  a one and a half percent budget reduction across the board, a hiring freeze for staff and faculty, keeping computers for one more year and only buying new ones every five years instead of four, and cutting back on new vehicles.

"We've moved from an era in which support from higher education primarily comes from the state and we've moved to an era in which support from higher education is increasingly coming from non-state revenues," said Noland. That includes tuition and fees, grants, contracts, along with sales and services.

Dr. Noland also addressed the issue of the newly formed football program.

"If we did not have a football program, I would still be standing here today making this decision," said Dr. Noland. He says the football program is funded by student fees and that money can not be moved to another fund; the same goes for the performing arts center.

Noland says, instead of taking away from the university, those projects should help build student growth.

"So without football we would have a $3.7 million shortfall as a result of enrollment downturn, with football we have a $3.7 million downturn due to  enrollment."

How long the cutbacks will last remains to be seen.

However, Dr. Noland believes this is a plan that will help the school grow its way out of the budget issues.

Staff salaries are not changing.  Dr. Noland says the school's mission is to put people first, so the 1.5 percent salary increase for staff and faculty will remain in place.

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