Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 08:41
State Rep. Tim Brown wants to help bridge the gap created by state funding cuts for Bowling Green State University next year.
The new "State Share of Instruction" formula no longer pays per student enrolled, but rather per student graduating. Under the new guidelines, BGSU's funding will be cut 4.2 percent, or by approximately $3 million for 2014. BGSU took the biggest hit of institutions in the state.
Overall in Ohio, five universities, seven branch campuses and five community colleges are expected to receive cuts. Owens Community College faces a 3 percent cut.
While the new "outcome-based" funding model is a good idea, it will create hardship that first year for schools like BGSU and Owens, said Brown, R-Bowling Green.
"It will be a significant gap for BGSU and Owens," he said.
So Brown is supporting House Bill 59 which would provide "bridge funding" to BGSU, Owens and other universities facing cuts.
Brown said he recently brought Cliff Rosenberger, chair of the House Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education, to Wood County for visits to BGSU, Owens and Penta Career Center.
After the visit, Rosenberger agreed to champion the "bridge formula funding" in the House.
According to Brown, higher education would need about $8 million in the state budget "to get us through the hump."
"I just think it's the right thing to do," he said. BGSU and other universities agreed to the change to "outcome-based" funding, because higher education officials saw it as the right thing to do, Brown said.
"We don't want people to be hurt by it initially," he said.
State Sen. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, who joined Rosenberger on his tour at BGSU, said he backs the bridge funding.
And BGSU officials support the financial help to get the university through the first year.
"We know that, ultimately, the Ohio legislature will decide the funding model for state universities," BGSU President Dr. Mary Ellen Mazey said in a statement Monday. "We appreciate Mr. Brown's support for the one-year bridge funding to help us transition to the new formula."
When it was first announced in February, BGSU issued a statement saying it supports Gov. John Kasich's goals and understand that increasing the number of college graduates is essential to Ohio's prosperity.
"While the new formula will negatively impact BGSU in the short-term, it is an important step in the right direction to address the challenges facing BGSU and higher education in Ohio," the statement said.
While BGSU has experienced an increase recently in freshman enrollment, it went through a decline in enrollment and retention several years ago. That has led in a smaller graduating class now.
According to BGSU officials, the university has begun steps necessary to improve graduation rates. These include addressing retention and degree completion rates as well as expanding the recruitment base to increase enrollment of high achieving students, transfer and adult students, and out-of-state and international students.