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McRobbie makes lemonade

That’s how IU President Michael McRobbie is tackling the new budget cuts imposed by Gov. Mitch Daniels as Indiana state revenue continues to dry up. We think it’s a good strategy.

In his letter to the faculty, McRobbie stated, “I believe this situation presents an opportunity – perhaps unprecedented since the time of Herman Wells – to move IU forward in substantial and innovative ways. Our goal must be to address the present very difficult situation in such a way that it ultimately strengthens IU.”

Sure, returning to thrift and getting back to the basics of what the University stands for – research and teaching – could, as McRobbie has claimed, make this University better and more efficient in the long run. The short-run pain that will fall mainly on staff and support services, however, should not be underestimated.

Slashing $58.9 million from the IU budget is no small feat, especially considering that IU has already achieved $29.3 million in base budget cuts. The pain is sure to be felt in almost every aspect of campus life except, perhaps, the classroom, if McRobbie can maintain his goals to “protect and strengthen the academic core of the University” and “aggressively pursue projects that maintain and add to our facilities (for research).”

McRobbie is correct in targeting the most important principles to maintaining the quality and reputation of our institution. We also believe that many of the cost-saving measures he has planned, including consolidating and reducing administrative functions where possible, encouraging healthy lifestyles among employees, and implementing energy-saving projects certainly have potential to benefit IU over time. These are practical and possibly beneficial spending cuts.

Although he has been left with few options, President McRobbie has continued to handle the financial crisis as well as can be expected. The cuts are not painless and the IU community will surely suffer. But if we are able to protect the heart of our University, IU can and will remain a quality institution.

And maybe, just maybe, McRobbie will be correct in his assertion that, “the efficiencies and improvements we are making will bring long-term positive impacts to
the University.”

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