The end of the 2011 Utah general legislative session brought good news for Utah State students and faculty. Significantly lowered budget cuts, ongoing funding for USU’s new veterinary medicine Ph.D. program and a pending grant for a new business building were all included in the session’s final outcome. USU President Stan Albrecht said, “While the session was a difficult one in many ways, it ended with some important good news for Utah State University.” 2 Percent Budget Cut When the session began, legislators approved a plan that would have cut USU’s budget an additional 7 percent from past years’ cuts. “An additional 7 percent cut would have been devastating to USU,” said USU’s government relations director Neil Abercrombie. He said two factors significantly contributed to the Legislature’s decision to lower the cuts. First, in February, updated revenue numbers indicated that the state would have enough revenue to fund more programs without dipping into one-time revenue sources or the “rainy day fund.” Second, the Legislature emphasized restoring the proposed cuts in areas that would provide a return on investment for the state of Utah. “USU emphasized the great return on investment USU provides for the state, for example job creation with research, producing well-educated students who are competitive in the job market, increasing innovation, helping strengthen an educated workforce critical for economic development,” he said. Albrecht said he had hoped the 7 percent cut would be eliminated entirely. He said he is working with vice presidents, deans, department heads and other campus leaders on strategies for addressing the additional budget reduction. Veterinary Medicine Program Utah State University’s original request for the veterinary medicine program was a one-time $3.2 million grant. While this grant was not awarded, the Legislature decided instead to give a $1.7 million ongoing grant to both start the program and continue to fund it in coming years. “The success of HB57, including the funding, really is a result of the hard work of Rep. Mathis and USU building a coalition of support before the 2011 Session even began,” Abercrombie said. Abercrombie said the approval of the program is a great accomplishment, especially in a year when Utah’s revenue is still low coming out of the national recession. “Dean (Noelle) Cockett and Dr. Ken White from the College of Agriculture were very effective testifying before the legislature outlining the details of the DVM program,” he said. Albrecht said the creation of the veterinary medicine program is an important step in continuing the evolution of Utah State, and will significantly enhance students’ opportunities to pursue career goals in Veterinary Medicine. To read the rest of this article on the Utah Statesman website, click here.
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