POSTED: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 5:19pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 10:49pm
EL PASO – One higher education institution in El Paso is fighting back against massive budget cuts, as state lawmakers aim to close an up to $27 billion budget deficit.
While all universities are dreading the prospect of having their budgets slashed, Texas Tech's Paul L. Foster School of Medicine is in a unique situation, as it faces cuts that are three times as deep.
“We have a special line item appropriation that's been targeted for a 35% cut,” said Dr. Jose Manuel de la Rosa, dean of the medical school.
A 35% cut translates to about a $13 million funding reduction. Dr. de la Rosa said if the cuts go through, the school would be forced to make some tragic choices.
“Slashes in our equipment budget, slashes in our utility budget. But most painfully, it turns out to slashing portions of faculty and stuff...that becomes 99 staff and 33 faculty members,” added Dr. de la Rosa.
According to Dr. de la Rosa, the cuts would also impact students.
“We're looking at options from not growing to our anticipated entering class of 100 students. We may have to keep the class at 80...to possibly raising tuition,” stated Dr. de la Rosa.
The prospect of a tuition hike doesn't sit well with students.
“Once you get to the fourth year and you starting thinking about all the loans and how it's accumulating...the interest,” said Jessica Ogawa, a first-year medical student.
Because the medical school hasn't graduated its first class yet, it's not eligible for formula funding. That's how most public universities in the state are funded. The school won't qualify until 2013. Meantime, Dr. de la Rosa said he will continue to make his case for more funding, before state lawmakers in Austin.
“They've expressed great interest in recognizing that a start-up school is in a very different format...We're always optimistic, we're very hopeful that we'll be treated like any other school,” stated Dr. de la Rosa.