Kentucky State University’s president warned Monday that proposed state budget cuts to higher education may threaten the existence of the historically black institution.
In a newsletter to the university community, KSU President Raymond Burse said the budget cuts Gov. Matt Bevin proposed last month would place KSU in a “precarious position.”
If the budget cuts were fully enacted, KSU’s options would be to “declare financial exigency and/or prepare a closure plan,” he wrote.
“I do not like either one of those options, and I am working hard to make certain we can do our work smarter, logically and effectively to ensure that Kentucky State University is here for another 130 years,” he wrote in the letter, which was published online by the Frankfort State Journal.
“This will require a great deal of work by all of us, and we must meet and be ready, willing and able to face and overcome the challenge,” he wrote. “No one is declaring defeat. For while it is day, we must work to make KSU a premier institution.”
Last month, Gov. Matt Bevin proposed 9 percent budget cuts to most state agencies, including state universities, for the next two fiscal years. He also announced plans to cut 4.5 percent from those same agencies during the current fiscal year.
Bevin, a Republican, has said the state must cut its budget under the financial strains of underfunded pension systems and the impending requirement to pick up a portion of the state’s expanded Medicaid costs.
The budget proposal has been criticized by Democratic lawmakers.
A Bevin spokeswoman did not immediately respond Monday morning to questions regarding KSU.
State university presidents across the commonwealth have said the proposed cuts would be challenging to absorb. But KSU would have unique difficulties.
In his letter, Burse wrote that the university is attempting to address past “improper processes, procedures and in some instances, yes, negligence.” In recent years, KSU became stricter in enforcing bill payments, a policy instituted because the university had $17 million in outstanding payments from students, wrote Burse, who became KSU’s president in 2014. He also wrote that the university has become stricter in enforcing its admission standards.
That’s led to a drop in enrollment.
In 2014, KSU enrollment was 1,588. The university’s official enrollment was 2,029 the previous year and 2,348 in 2010, according to the Kentucky Council for Postsecondary Education.
Burse could not be immediately reached for further comment.
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