AUBURN – Auburn University has identified programs that $25.9 million in stimulus funds from the federal government will support once released by Gov. Bob Riley.
The majority of the funds will support student learning, safety and other enhancements, as well as teaching. The intent is to enhance the experience of the entire student body, which for fiscal year 2010 has reached 24,602.
“It would have taken a 26 percent tuition increase to cover the gap created by the dramatic decrease in state appropriations for fiscal year 2010,” said Don Large, Auburn University executive vice president. “The promise of stimulus funding allowed us to mitigate that by using the majority of funds to improve student services.”
Large added that Auburn University Montgomery also used the planned funding to mitigate tuition increase and preserve faculty and staff support jobs that would otherwise be eliminated due to state appropriation reductions.
Funds will be used to provide additional services at the Auburn University Libraries and Honors College, and for student wireless communications and classroom multimedia upgrades, as well as to enhance public safety and security.
“The safety enhancements, as well as a night security shuttle for students, are a major priority for both students and parents, and Auburn’s plan to support those areas indicates the university is listening,” Student Government Association President Jacob Watkins said.
“In addition, it is critical to retain graduate teaching assistants, part-time faculty and core faculty positions to ensure positive outcomes for our students’ futures,” Large said. “With careful funds management, we’re combining our budget with planned stimulus funds to avoid reductions in student services and preserve academic quality.”
Large noted that the stimulus funds, while helpful, make up a small portion of the $172 million cumulative cut in Auburn’s state funding when combined with the effects of the state reductions in fiscal years 2009 and 2010. Put this in terms of continuing appropriations, Auburn’s adjusted base appropriations from the state have been reduced by $96 million from the fiscal year 2008 level, an amount greater than the total reduction in appropriations for Alabama’s two-year college system.
A recent letter to the governor from the university outlines Auburn’s plans and its intention to provide transparent and full disclosure of all spending. While the funds were appropriated to the university by the legislature in the fiscal year 2010 Education Trust Fund budget, the funds have not yet been released by the state.