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New proposed UM budget model has some students concerned

University of Montana Campus Missoula
Posted at 4:45 PM, Apr 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-05 18:54:16-04

MISSOULA — It's that time of year when the University of Montana is working on its budget for the next school year and beyond but not all students are happy with what they're hearing.

UM administrators are proposing a new budget model that will be up for approval in September with some students in the College of Humanities and Sciences saying the model would adversely impact a college that has already seen $10.4 million in cuts since 2015.

“We’re looking at a proposed cut of $2.6 million and that proposed budget cut would mean the loss of like 40 to 50 staff members which would be devastating to a lot of our programs," said Junior Maddie Hagan who is pursuing a history and philosophy double major.
Students are asking for no further budget cuts which has resulted in sit-ins over the last few weeks. The group of students hopes to raise awareness of the consequences they say another round of cuts would have. Hagan says the staff cuts she has seen in her three years in the College of Humanities has been noticeable and she feels it is hurting her experience and opportunities,

“For me, it means the loss of the ability to take classes I want to take, and have like a full option," Hagan told MTN News.

Senior Philosophy and History Major Ryan Garnsey -- who started in the program in 2015 -- says he was drawn to the University of Montana because of the wide array of opportunities that humanities and sciences presented. He worries future incoming classes won’t have those opportunities, “what this current round of cuts will do is make that an impossibility for people in the future.”

University of Montana Director of Strategic Communication Dave Kuntz, says no final decisions have been made regarding the new budget model.

“We’ve seen applicants grow, we’ve seen the number of admitted students grew here at the University of Montana, and once we know what that fall enrollment looks like, we’ll be able to make really smart budgetary decisions that ensure that the university is on a path to succeed in the future," Kuntz explained.

Kuntz added that the new budget will be predicated on where student’s interest lie in years to come,

“We’ll make sure that some colleges on our campus grow in the future, while others might see a strategic reduction," he said. "They’re going to see some incredible growth at the College of Forestry, College of Health, and College of business.”

Where that leaves the College of Humanities remains to be seen, but Hagan says that, more than anything, she wants her concerns to be heard loud and clear, and for the dialogue to be more open and transparent than she feels like it has been to this point.

“The communication has not been great, and it’s pretty one-sided," Hagan said.

MTN News asked Kuntz about the cuts being considered, but he did not confirm the specific amounts.