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Cal State could turn away 25,000 students in budget slashing

March 21, 2012 |  8:16 am

Cal State protests
The California State University system may be forced to cut low-enrollment programs and lay off about 3,000 staffers if cost-cutting measures aren't enough to improve its grim budget outlook.

Some measures are possible, including plans to slash enrollment, losing thousands of faculty and staff positions and eliminating academic and athletic programs, if a tax measure on the November ballot fails, Cal State officials said Tuesday.

In that case, the system would be faced with a $200-million cut that would occur in the middle of the 2012-13 academic year.

Officials estimate 20,000 to 25,000 eligible students could be turned away. In addition, campuses will limit the number of courses students can take, with a maximum of 15 to 17 credits each term except for graduating seniors.

But the system's 23 campuses also may be forced to cut programs and staff, said Benjamin F. Quillian, executive vice chancellor and chief financial officer, at the trustees meeting in Long Beach.

"Let there be no mistake about it, we can't continue to nibble around the edges," Quillian said.

Trustees asked Chancellor Charles Reed to devise alternatives to deep enrollment cuts, even while acknowledging there is little appetite for more tuition increases.

Even as they were talking of classroom cutbacks, the Board of Trustees on Tuesday voted 11 to 3 to approve 10% pay increases for new presidents at the Fullerton and East Bay campuses. Voting no were trustees Margaret G. Fortune, Steven M. Glazer and Melinda Guzman.

In comments to LA Now on Tuesday about cuts to higher education, a reader who identified himself as student Chad Oliver of UC Santa Cruz wrote, in part: "The bottom line is that the state legislators have been completely gutting the funding for statewide education for 10+ years now. ... The easiest thing that EVERYONE CAN DO, regardless of your views on anything else ... CALL YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS AND URGE THEM TO REINVEST IN STATE EDUCATION. It's simple yet has a big impact."

Another reader who identified himself as John Seibert Farnsworth of Santa Clara, wrote, in part: "Part of the collateral damage here will be the thousands of transfer students coming out of our community college system on schedule and then being put on hold for a semester while attrition makes room for them.

"In essence, the people of California have reneged on our contract with these students, and we've done so at a point when they've already invested two years of work at the community college level."

Reader Gerald Good, who identified himself as a retiree, wrote: "Why not make major use of the internet and do most of the teaching on line? It would cut costs significantly and thereby provide wider access. ... Education is stuck in a brick and mortar model that is archaic."

A reader who identified himself as Ed Hudson wrote: "And at the same time they are considering 10% pay increases for two campus presidents. I am beyond adjectives. Where are the priorities of the "trustees" (an ironic term)?; its surely not on the students, staff or faculty."


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Photo: Students at Cal State Northridge, including Julio Barron, 18, a freshman, protest against funding cuts in higher education last year. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times