March 20, 2002
Presidents urge O'Bannon to act now for education
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. The presidents of Indiana's six public universities today (Wednesday, 3/20) urged Indiana Gov. Frank O'Bannon to spare higher education from any more budget cuts and to reconvene the General Assembly.
"Statewide, for fiscal years 2001 to 2003, Indiana's seven public colleges and universities are reeling from $67 million in budget cuts," the letter stated. "These are real. They have already happened. As grim as that is, we fear we may lose substantially more. We cannot sustain these losses without significant injury to our institutions. The effects of this damage will reverberate in the state for years.
"Those reductions will mean buildings will not be repaired; outdated or broken equipment will not be replaced; and our students will not have access to the technology used in today's marketplace.
"While our infrastructure and technology decline, so will our academic quality. The budget cuts will mean layoffs and unfilled vacancies, all translating into fewer professors in the classroom. Our top faculty will be enticed away by other states that are finding ways to invest in education.
"This scenario would be devastating to our students and to our state. We are asking you to take all possible action to ensure that those additional cuts do not occur."
The presidents reminded the governor that education is not part of the state's revenue problem. Rather, they said, it's part of the solution:
"It is our hope for attracting business and its inherent economic benefits. It is our hope for raising the standard of living and salaries for all Hoosiers. It is our hope for reducing crime and improving health."
They urged the governor to act quickly to not only protect education but to call the lawmakers back in a special session to deal with the root problem: tax realignment and state funding.
"We urge you to take advantage of the momentum already established," the letter concluded. "Let's reconvene the General Assembly, find that compromise and get the state's most important work done.
"If we act today, we will thrive tomorrow. If we delay, the promise of tomorrow may never be realized."
Presidents signing the letter were: Lloyd W. Benjamin III, Indiana State; Bryan K. Blanchard, Vincennes; Myles Brand, Indiana; Blaine Brownell, Ball State; H. Ray Hoops, Southern Indiana; Martin C. Jischke, Purdue.
Writer: Jeanne Norberg, (765) 494-2084; email@example.com
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; firstname.lastname@example.org