President L. Dennis Smith’s Response to Governor Johanns’ State of the State Message:
Recommendations to reduce the University of Nebraska’s budget by $80 million over the next two years should be of concern to every parent, every potential employer – in fact, every citizen of Nebraska. Our first priority as a state university is to educate our kids – to give the young people of Nebraska the skills and knowledge they need to succeed, and to encourage them to stay in Nebraska and help build the future of the state. To do that, we must be able to offer them a quality education at an affordable price. $80 million in cuts puts affordability and accessibility in jeopardy.

We recognize that Nebraska is in an unprecedented economic crisis and that all state-funded operations, including the university, must help find a solution. The Governor’s recommendations were not unexpected – without a tax increase or other revenue enhancement, we had to expect that he would suggest reductions of this magnitude. It is early in the process and we will work with the legislature and the public over the next few months to find a solution that is more constructive.

I think it’s important for the public to understand, and to participate in, decisions affecting the future of our state university. Over the next two months, the chancellors and I will hold a series of meetings across the state to listen to the concerns, priorities and suggestions of Nebraskans with regard to their state university. I will also ask the chancellors to identify, as quickly as possible, where cuts would be made so that the legislature and the public are aware of their scope and impact.

In the meantime, on our campuses and in university administration we will continue to find ways to spend less, to do more with the resources we have, and to seek additional sources of revenue outside of state funding. We will focus more strongly than ever on our identified academic priorities.

We stand ready to do our part. We know that Nebraskans want their children and grandchildren to be able to attend a university they can be proud of. I am confident that when this process is over, the University of Nebraska will remain a source of pride for our state.
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