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UNL may slash funding for ag research lab, rural communities program

University of Nebraska-Lincoln City Campus Gateway Columns with new N icon. August 9, 2016. (Craig Chandler / UNL University Communications)

Rural programs could be cut by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, as administrators say they've been forced to make serious decisions.

UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green announced the budget cuts, which are needed to comply with the governor's proposed system-wide cuts. NU President Hank Bounds has said the cuts amount to approximately $11 million for the current budget year and $23 million for the next budget year.

Green, former head of ag programs for the university, announced cuts to ag research and a rural initiative, among others.

“This is not the first time we have had to make these tough decisions — this is the third cut to the university budget in less than a year," Green said. "And, as sad as it is to say, unless something changes dramatically, it is not going to be the last cut either.”

Green made it clear nothing is being eliminated now, as these are proposals that have not been approved.

“But there’s no way to dice it. This is serious business," he said.

The proposed cuts would include:

  • Closure of the Haskell Agricultural Laboratory, which serves 28 counties in northeast Nebraska. It is based north of Wayne.
  • A deep cut to the Rural Futures Institute, which works with communities across the state.
  • Eliminating bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in geography.
  • Eliminating the electronics engineering bachelor’s degree.
  • Eliminating bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in art history.
  • Eliminating two teacher’s certification programs, one in business, marketing and information technology and the other in French, Latin and Russian language education.

In a news release, Green said, “We’ve worked hard over the years to focus on operational efficiencies to spare core academic programs from cuts,” Green said. “Unfortunately, now there is nowhere else to go.”

It could be late March before a final budget decision comes from the State Capitol. Even if the proposed cuts must move forward at that time, Green stressed that they still would be subject to full review by the Academic Planning Committee, including a public hearing and recommended modifications, as described by the process set out here .

“This is not the first time we have had to make these tough decisions — this is the third cut to the university budget in less than a year," Green said. "And, as sad as it is to say, unless something changes dramatically, it is not going to be the last cut either.”

Green recently said the state's land-grant university still has set goals to increase enrollment and research, even with budget cuts.

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