By Michelle McManimon for Arizona Daily Sun
At a campus forum on NAU’s fiscal year 2016 budget April 30, NAU President Rita Cheng said 60 positions will be cut and she has asked all academic departments to cut spending by 4.5 percent. All other divisions in the university have been asked to cut between 8 percent and 10 percent.
Cheng also unveiled a list of spending cuts the university has already started implementing, as well as a list of longer-term solutions to shrink the budget. One thing that did not make the list was a mass layoff.
NAU administrators have decided to close two policy and research institutes to save money. One is the IDEA Lab — short for Imaging, Design, Editing, and Administrative services — which has provided resources to NAU researchers university-wide since 1981. The other is the Interdisciplinary Health Policy Institute.
The university has also postponed construction of the new Engineering Lab Building. That project, which carried an estimated price tag between $2.75M and $4.25M, would have added laboratory space in the area south of the Walkup Skydome known as Emerald City. The university proposed the construction in 2014 to support its undergraduate engineering program, which has nearly tripled its enrollment since 2005.
One way university officials hope to save money is by closing some of NAU’s more than 30 satellite campuses in communities outside Flagstaff. Cheng said that effort is largely motivated by the growing number of students who are opting for online courses rather than on-site instruction. The university now offers more than 80 degree programs that can be completed entirely online.
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