Chancellor discusses schools’ cost-cutting in Macon visit

The chancellor for the University System of Georgia touted higher education as an “investment” in the future Monday while addressing the Macon Rotary Club at First Presbyterian Church.

“Everyone benefits from higher education,” Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. said.

College enrollment is “exploding” while the budget for Georgia’s colleges and universities has shrunk by about $275 million, Davis said.

Tuition prices will be adjusted to compensate for a portion of the deficit, he said, adding many schools may offer fewer classes with more students.

Davis said there are 1,300 vacant positions throughout the university system. While 800 of the positions are administrative and can be eliminated, there are 500 faculty positions that are vital with the growing enrollment.

“We are doing more and more with less and less,” he said, adding less than 100 university system employees have been laid off.

Davis said cost-cutting decisions have been delegated to individual college and university presidents.

Macon State College is making plans to shut off the air conditioning on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the summer months when classes are not in session, said college President David Bell, who attended the speech.

Air conditioning will remain on in one classroom building to accommodate any classes that do have a need to meet, he said.

The cost-cutting measure, scheduled to begin May 11, is expected to save about $100,000, Bell said.

“That’s nobody being laid off and nobody furloughed,” he said.

Bell said the college is considering a permanent move to a four or four-and-a half day school week.

An additional $75,000 could be saved if air conditioning is turned off for the rest of the year when classes aren’t in session, he said.

The college also hopes to “earn its way” by booking conferences at its newly opened conference center, Bell said. With Macon State’s relatively low tuition cost, Bell said he expects to see a significant increase in applications this fall.

In Milledgeville, 11 administrative positions have been eliminated and 19 positions are frozen at Georgia College and State University, said President Dorothy Leland, who attended the chancellor’s speech.

“Everyone who is here is working longer, harder and smarter,” she said, adding no one has been furloughed. “I hope we don’t have to go there.”

Leland said the university’s travel budget has been frozen and public safety officers are using more bike patrols to save money.

Many materials that were once printed — such as the course catalog — are now being posted exclusively online, Leland said.

Materials that must be printed are being printed on less expensive paper, she said.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.