Monday, March 4, 2013

Repositioning higher education

It’s been a lean time for higher education, and Snow College may be in the toughest situation of any school in the state, said Utah Sen. Ralph Okerlund.

“It’s not just a Snow College thing, cuts are going on at campuses across the state,” Okerlund said. “We as a Legislature have asked them to look at their models and make sure they are providing the most bang for our buck.”

What constitutes the most bang for the taxpayers’ buck, according to the Legislature?

“It’s tougher in rural areas where there are not as many employment opportunities, so we have to be smart,” Okerlund said.

Okerlund said the change in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s missionary policy would affect Snow for the next two to three years. Due to the composition of Snow’s student body, the change will have a more dramatic effect on Snow than any other institution in the state, Okerlund said. The loss has been projected to be more than $2 million in lost tuition over the course of the next year.

The debate over the future of Snow College Richfield spilled over into a Richfield City Council meeting Feb. 12.

“They are cutting a lot of things,” said Mike Turner, city council member. He said he is concerned about the closure of programs, the cuts in funding at the Snow Richfield campus, and the potential effect on Richfield’s economy.

Turner said he had talked with Noel Bailey, who is part of a group of retired employees from Snow Richfield that has expressed displeasure with cuts to programs at the campus.

The group of former college officials met with the state auditor’s office in October 2012 to express six concerns, including how a legislative budget line item for $1.2 million for career and technical education is spent. Read more on this subject: Richfield Reaper