GW to cut budget, eliminate newspaper program

Students will no longer receive free copies of The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today in residence halls next fall as GW implements a $3 million campus-wide budget cut.

The GW Reads program, which deposits three major newspapers in residence halls on weekdays, is one of several services being eliminated or reduced by cuts for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The University’s Board of Trustees is slated to meet May 14 to approve the proposed cuts, which officials are still discussing.

The cuts will be spread across the University, and each GW vice president will need to trim his budget by a specified amount, said Louis Katz, executive vice president and treasurer.

He said the 1.2 percent cut is very similar to last year’s.

Katz said the cuts are needed because the University is “reallocating” more resources to the University Writing Program, Gelman Library and technology improvements. Officials are also planning for an average 4 percent increase in faculty salaries.

He added GW will rely less on its endowment, which increased to $634 million last year, to fund its yearly operating budget. Last year, GW implemented cuts to compensate for a drop in the endowment, or the money gifted to a school by individuals and businesses.

“What we’re doing is not relying on excess payouts from the endowment to (fund programs),” said Katz, who added that endowment money will be invested in financial markets.

The decision to cut the newspaper program was based on the consideration that only 22 to 24 percent of the newspapers are being picked up each day, Johnnie Osborne, associate vice president and chief financial officer for Student and Academic Support Services, wrote in an e-mail Friday.

Osborne said cutting the $90,000-per-year program would prevent budget reductions in other programs. Officials considered removing newspapers from residence halls last spring.

Some students said the discontinuation of the newspaper program would be detrimental to their education.

“(It’s) ridiculous because we’re college students, and we need to know what’s going on,” said sophomore Alicia Moulton.

But freshman Michele Elefant, citing low readership, said the program’s elimination would be a good idea.

“If you’re going to make cuts they should be for something people don’t use,” she said.

GW will also be making cuts in academic departments, said Donald Lehman, executive vice president for Academic Affairs.

He said academic deans would decide budgets for their respective schools. While he was unable to speak about specific departmental cuts, Lehman said the new budget would focus on raising faculty salaries by an average of 4 percent. Last year, officials froze administrator and faculty salaries to stave off the effects of a poor economy.

“Our top priority for the academic area of the budget is to provide a merit increase pull across the board for professors,” Lehman said.

He also said that $350,000 would be allocated to phasing in the University Writing program, which two-thirds of incoming freshmen will take next year. Graduate programs will also receive more funding, Lehman said, along with an extra $900,000 for the Gelman Library.

Although SASS will cut the newspaper program, it has yet to decide if additional programs will be cut or see a decrease in funding, said Robert Chernak, the department’s senior vice president. Student Health Services may see in increase in funding to counter student complaints about long wait lines, he added.

The University will also trim costs by keeping certain positions vacant in areas that “have the lowest impact on students,” Katz said.

Table:

Next year’s budget changes:

*$3 million cut
*Elimination of $90,000 free newspaper program
*$350,000 toward University Writing Program
*$900,000 toward Gelman Library
*more money for graduate programs

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