Rao: Cuts worst in CMU’s history
When Gloria Siers first arrived in Mount Pleasant 25 years ago her
children often went to the Museum of Cultural and Natural History as
Now, after teaching environmental science at CMU and watching her
daughter graduate with a museum studies minor, she is frustrated that
the museum is closing its doors after being cut in the latest round of
budget reductions. The closing means she will no longer be able to use
the museum in her lesson plans.
“I think there could be cuts made in something that is not as far
reaching,” Siers said of the museum and the vast numbers of professors
and students who use it as a resource. “It is just a shame to close it
University President Michael Rao called the most recent round of
cuts, in which officials eliminated $10.2 million from the budget, the
most painful and severe in the history of CMU.
Among the cuts: Four academic programs being phased out during two
years — medical technology, nursing minor, museum studies minor and the
master of arts degree in health promotion and program management; the
building maintenance worker program; reduction of SAP consulting;
Centralight, the alumni magazine and other reductions in the Counseling
Center, career services, orientation and in the Registrar’s Office.
“It’s not ever been as deep as it is now,” Rao said of the cuts. “It
is no longer tightening (the) belt; it has come to the point where
large chunks of the belts are being cut off.”
CMU’s total operating budget is $225 million.
Though last year’s cuts were about $14 million, Rao said the cuts
made this year, which took effect July 1, do more damage to the core of
CMU. He said the damage includes cuts to services that impact students,
academics and the thousands of artifacts in the museum.
“This year is less money, but it is really cutting down into the
core,” he said. “It’s becoming frustrating and bothersome.”
And the frustration does not rest solely with Rao and his
There are somewhere between 60,000 to 80,000 artifacts in the
museum, said Director Lynn Fauver. Many professors in the biology,
anthropology and other departments used the museum as a teaching tool.
“It is a huge impact on the students,” Fauver said. “We were the
resource for the campus.”
The artifacts in the museum will still be available for students and
professors, but will be much less accessible.
While CMU officials looked to have their budget squared away before
June 30, the end of the fiscal year, there was still much debate in
Lansing over troubles with the state’s budget.
Rao said if CMU is forced to make more cuts next year, it may come
to a point where students will not have a place at CMU because the cuts
will be so deep that many programs and professors will be cut.
“That is the only direction I can see it going if the cutting
continues,” he said.
In some ways, Rao considers living in a small community an advantage
when jobs, academics and student services are on the chopping block.
Occasionally, Rao sees faculty and other CMU employees during his
everyday activities, such as shopping, and is able to have five to 10
minute conversations about the things that affect them most. Through
the one-on-one conversations the employees are able to understand for
the first time what they may have heard three, four or five times
“It is actually to my advantage to live in a small town,” he said.
“I get the chance to talk to them.”
Still, Rao does not look past the severity of budget cuts — which
often change the lives of his employees who find themselves jobless and
leaves students with less resources than the semester before.
“Every time I do this, it is no less painful for me,” he said.
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