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President Standifird addresses students’ concerns about budget deficit

President Standifird
Photo via Bradley University.

Amidst Bradley’s recent program and faculty cuts, university President Stephen Standifird took the Garrett Center stage on Sept. 11 to answer students’ questions regarding the future of the university.

Standifird confirmed that Bradley’s operating budget is short $13 million for the 2023-2024 academic year, about 10% of its projected budget. This means that the revenue generated falls short of covering the university’s operating costs.

“That [deficit] is something we could manage for a while, given the strength of our endowment,” Standifird said. “But it’s not a sustainable position, and one of the things that I am absolutely committed to is putting Bradley in a position so it is successful for the next 125 years.”

Cuts are being decided by a faculty committee’s assessment of academic programs. There will be an announcement of what programs are being officially disbanded by the end of the semester.

Standifird assured students that if they are currently enrolled in an academic program that ends up being cut, the administration will work to ensure that they can finish the program.

“If we’re eliminating a program, it’s probably because it has very few students,” Standifird said. “In all likelihood, you’re not going to feel anything. If you’re in a program that actually has students in it, then that’s a program that’s probably serving us well.”

One of the programs that has already been impacted by the cuts is pre-law. The Center for Legal Studies was shut down before the first day of classes with no warning to students using the service.

Several pre-law students were in attendance and took advantage of the open Q&A.

When asked to provide specific factors that went into the decision to disband the Center for Legal Studies, several students found Standifird’s answer to be unsatisfactory.

“I’ll be careful talking about individual positions,” Standifird said. “But I’ll tell you how the analysis goes. One of the things we’re looking at is, ‘is there another way to do what we are currently doing, equally effective and more efficient?’”

“He didn’t listen to my question or respond in good faith,” senior political science major Sarah Sweeney said. “He didn’t formally address the damage he caused so I don’t feel like he understood what I meant when I said I didn’t feel heard or valued as a pre-law student.”

Sweeney was also frustrated by the lack of communication between students and the administration, a sentiment that was echoed by Student Body President Jack Batz.

“We may hear about stuff before other students, but that’s not because we are being told directly,” senior political science major Batz said. “In terms of conversations, we [Student Senate] are not being included as well as we should be.”

Batz believes that the students being affected should be brought to the table for these discussions and plans to ask the Board of Directors to include the Student Senate in decision making.

“It can be slightly frustrating,” Batz said. “People are very shy of giving away information because they know students run rampant with bad news.”

There is also concern over the possibility of tuition increasing to make up for the deficit. Standifird explained that while tuition will likely increase, the discounts students receive, such as scholarships, will also increase. 

“The fact that everything all happened right when we had to pay our first deposit for tuition is not okay,” sophomore finance major and legal studies minor Sheridan Bayr said. “They had to have known in advance that this was gonna happen, so the fact that they waited until the last minute, right when tuition was due, is crazy.”

Standifird acknowledged the fear-mongering that has resulted from the lack of transparency, but did not specify any changes he will make in the administration’s communication.

“I’ll be blunt with you – the dynamic I run into is, until we make the changes we need to make, everything I can say about our financial stability is going to fall on deaf ears,” Standifird said.

While Standifird did answer some questions, he left many students with more to wonder about. He left with the assurance that there will be a final announcement regarding the budget before the end of the semester.

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