In an economy where every penny counts, the College of Medicine in Phoenix may need to pinch a few more.
Last week Arizona State University submitted a proposal to cut ties with the College of Medicine, a move that would force the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University to fill in the funding gaps.
The Arizona Board of Regents said it would make a final decision by May 1.
Terri Shafer, the associate vice president of marketing and strategic communications at ASU, said ABOR has required the school to cut $5.4 million from the budget. By ending the six-year collaboration, ASU will be saving $3.5 million a year.
The $5.4 million in cuts to ASU is part of a statewide cutback of 2.75 percent to state universities.
Jennifer Grentz, assistant executive director of public affairs for ABOR, said the state universities would present their process for the 2.75 percent cut on April 30 and May 1.
“They’re also going to present if Proposition 100 fails,” Grentz said.
On May 18, Arizonans will vote on Proposition 100 and decide whether to implement a 1 percent sales tax increase. If the proposition is voted down, Shafer said the school will be asked to make an additional $48 million in cuts to its around $1.5 billion annual budget. Should the proposition pass, no more cuts will be made.
“Education across the state of Arizona will be very severely affected if (Proposition 100) does not pass,” Shafer said.
K-12 education would stand to lose $456 million if the proposition does not pass, she said.
“To cut $5.4 million we had to consolidate two schools of education and we had to withdraw from the College of Medicine.” Shafer said. “$48 million would be very damaging to the university.”
Shafer said in the event that Proposition 100 does not pass, the school would need to look to merge more programs, cut more jobs, cut courses and potentially restrict the number of seats for other courses.
The proposal to cut funding for the medical school has caused some to re-evaluate ASU’s commitment to the medical sciences.
“It really discourages me to continue with ASU as a credible university in the medical field,” said Aimee Lavoie, a kinesiology major with a concentration in pre-med.
Lavoie, an Arizona resident, said she did consider the College of Medicine in Phoenix before the ASU funding cut had been proposed.
“The opportunity for them to grow as a medical school is exciting and for them to sever that tie is disappointing,” she said. “Now I have to look elsewhere to go to a medical school outside the state.”
She said the medical school downtown allows a lot of opportunities because of its proximity to area hospitals.
Lavoie, who graduates next spring, said she has been looking at schools in the Northeast, including some as far as the University of Vermont.
Shafer said she does not believe the cut shows a lack of commitment to the medical sciences at ASU.
“ASU already produces more graduates who go to medical school than any other university (in the state),” Shafer said.
If and when ABOR passes the proposal, the College of Medicine will still remain, however, UA would take financial leadership of the program.
“That money has been cut from our budget by the board of regents.” Shafer said. “It’s not like we have that money to do something else.”
ASU will look for the funding to come. If Proposition 100 fails, then they could be waiting a while.
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