By Jacquelyn Zeman – Chief Web Editor
In an effort to reduce college wide spending, Grand Rapids Community College administrators are moving forward with plans to implement between $2 million and $5 million worth of cuts in budgets and programs.
In order to save costs, administrators have decided to increase guest parking rates, implement a tiered tuition for several programs and eliminate some administrative, staff and faculty positions.
Acting on recommendations made by an ad-hoc budget committee, GRCC President Steven Ender has decided to cut expenses in order to make up for an ongoing financial deficit, which has been primarily triggered by dropping enrollment numbers.
“We certainly need to find revenue,” Ender said. “We are looking to cut between 2 and 5 million dollars as our target because of enrollment numbers.”
Enrollment has been down at GRCC from forecasted amounts for the past several semesters. In the fall of 2014, GRCC tuition rates went up 2.9 percent and college administrators announced buyouts and early retirement incentives.
Provost Laurie Chesley and Vice President of Finance and Administration Lisa Freiburger served as co-chairs of the ad-hoc budget committee. The committee began meeting during the summer of 2014 to figure out a way to make up for the financial deficit.
“Clearly we have been faced, as all community colleges in Michigan, with some economic challenges, primarily from enrollment,” Freiburger said. “The largest upbringing of our revenue (comes) from tuition and fees. When enrollment declines, so does that revenue, presenting financial challenges.”
The budget reduction plans call for the elimination of several faculty, staff and administrative positions including the elimination of dean, counseling and disability support positions.
Freiburger said administrators are implementing many of the committee’s recommendations that will allow the college to cut costs.
“There are some difficult adjustments, some difficult cuts,” Freiburger said. “There is no other way to say it. So none of this is easy work. Ideally we would not be in this situation…we would rather be out ahead of it than be forced to make adjustments in the middle of a student’s academic year.”
“I believe that we are being proactive,” Freiburger said. “We will have to continue to have some hard decisions to make. We will need to look at continuing to reprioritize the resources we have.”
The committee considered closing GRCC’s pool and eliminating the athletic program, but neither recommendation was accepted at this time.
“The athletic program serves as a strong retention tool,” Ender said, noting that GRCC’s athletics programs also attract students.