Budget cuts create opening day anxiety

Even through cheerful recognitions and introductions, University President Sidney Ribeau could not hide the concern in his voice about the state’s impending budget cuts in his Opening Day Address.

Ribeau spoke of anticipation for the new academic year, high enrollment and how much progress the University has made since he joined the faculty. The incoming freshman class is taking part in the BG eXperience, a unique program started five years ago to help new students adjust to academic and campus life.

As well as discussing new University programs, Ribeau spoke of the Building Dreams Campaign. The campaign is designed to help with University funding, and he hopes to complete it this year.

So far, the campaign has raised $99 million to help with the costs of academic programs, buildings, and scholarships. With a goal of $120 million, Ribeau hopes that the finished campaign will solve some of the problems created by state budget cuts.

“We cannot be everything to everybody; we don’t have the resources, the equipment, the buildings,” Ribeau said.

Mandatory cost increase contributed to the ever-growing list of concerns, with energy costs increasing 55 percent over the last three years and healthcare expenses increasing 33 percent.

The State House of Representatives has proposed substantial cuts to all state universities and their programs for up to $50,000 for future years.

First-year graduate student Sara Emerson said that she had no idea of the University’s funding concerns before Ribeau’s speech, although she recognized that all state institutions and students should be concerned.

“The scary thing is that I know it’s a reality – it touches my life in an indirect way,” she said. “Change needs to start somewhere and is something that needs to be addressed as a whole; we need the money to do it.”

Ribeau finished his speech by assuring that the funding problem will be solved .

“Our direction could never be clearer,” Ribeau said.