Rally at NKU targets cuts to education which has led to uncertainty on college campuses

04/12/2018 04:36 PM

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS – Hundreds of faculty, staff and students at Northern Kentucky University held a noontime rally to protest statewide budget cuts that have led to job uncertainties on the Highland Heights campus.

Mark Leeman, an associate professor at NKU and one of the rally’s organizers, told those in attendance that the state’s practice of underfunding postsecondary education has been taking place for some time and if it continues it will lead to a not so prosperous Kentucky.

“This year, the state of Kentucky will contribute 23 percent of NKU’s budget, not even a fourth, they are privatizing your college,” Leeman said. “Who’s picking up the tab? That’s right, students.”

Leeman fears that if the cuts continue, many Kentuckians will be priced out of being able to attend college.

“Education is not an expense on the budget, education is an investment that pays back, many, many, many times over,” Leeman. “So, let’s fund it. No more mortgaging millennials.”

Dr. David Thompson, is a 42-year tenured professor at Northern Kentucky University, and says the current bleak outlook for faculty and staff are the worst that he’s seen in over four decades.

“I have personally never seen this place as depressed as it is,” Thompson said. “The students haven’t realized it quite yet but the faculty, the staff, the administrators and the other people in the government and the commercial community are asking what’s going on over there. Things are really bad.”

Thompson admits that the pension crisis needs to be addressed, but doing it by cutting education will lead to detrimental effects down the road.

“We’ve got to fund this pension piece because there’s a lot of people my age and that baby boomer piece that are going to need to be able to access that kind of retirement and that kind of stuff, but you don’t do it by cutting the good stuff that you’ve got,” Thompson said.

NKU senior Jefferson Shaw stopped by the rally to support educators whom he supports.

“I think they need to have the opportunity for tenure, they need to have the opportunity for fair wages and they’re a priority, we need them in order to have a successful university environment that we have here at NKU,” Shaw said.

Senior Taylor Leach says that teachers have been the backbone of the university and her life and finds it disturbing that they seem to be targeted with cuts.

“The only reason we are here is because of them,” Leach said. “By getting rid of these teachers at NKU, it’s a huge disservice to our students.”

NKU Interim President Gerard St. Amand supports a veto override of House Bill 200 (Budget bill) and House Bill 362 (revenue and tax reform bill).

The budget bill nets NKU approximately $2 million through appropriation to the Performance Fund, and HB362 gives the university an option to deal with the pension system that will otherwise increase NKU’s contribution by $13 million without the legislation which would be the equivalent of a $13 million budget cut that could lead to numerous layoffs of faculty and staff for the next fiscal year.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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