Last modified: Thursday, March 21, 2002
Letter to Gov. O'Bannon from university presidents
March 20, 2002
Dear Governor O'Bannon:
Indiana and its future are at a crossroads. We have many challenges and many choices, but we have only one solution. We must invest in ourselves. It is the only path to a better future for the people of our state.
What investment will yield the surest and best return? Education. It is our hope for attracting business and its inherent economic benefits. It is our hope for raising the standard of living and salaries for all Hoosiers. It is our hope for reducing crime and improving health.
Investing in education today is our best hope for a better Indiana tomorrow.
Unfortunately, that investment has been eroding, rather than building. Now, at the very moment when Indiana needs to invest in education more than ever, education has suffered deep cuts, with even more drastic reductions looming.
Statewide, for fiscal years 2001 to 2003, Indiana's seven public colleges and universities are reeling from $67 million in budget cuts. These are real. They have already happened. As grim as that is, we fear we may lose even more. We cannot sustain these losses without significant injury to our institutions. The effects of this damage will reverberate in the state for years.
Those reductions will mean buildings will not be repaired; outdated or broken equipment will not be replaced; and our students will not have access to the technology used in today's marketplace.
While our infrastructure and technology decline, so will our academic quality. The budget cuts will mean layoffs and unfilled vacancies, all translating into fewer professors in the classroom. Our top faculty will be enticed away by other states that are finding ways to invest in education.
This scenario would be devastating to our students and to our state. We are asking you to take all possible action to ensure that those additional cuts do not occur.
And there is still a chance to undo the damage already done. We believe that the members of the Indiana General Assembly were closing in on common ground on the budget and tax issues when they ran out of time while still considering compromises that could have resolved many of our problems.
Standing behind our state leaders is the Alliance for Indiana's Future, a coalition of business, labor, government, research and education leaders who are urging action and who agree that education is the solution.
We urge you to take advantage of the momentum already established. Let's reconvene the General Assembly, find that compromise and get the state's most important work done.
If we act today, we will thrive tomorrow. If we delay, the promise of tomorrow may never be realized.
Lloyd W. Benjamin III, President, Indiana State University
Bryan K. Blanchard, President, Vincennes University
Myles Brand, President, Indiana University
Blaine Brownell, President, Ball State University
H. Ray Hoops, President, University of Southern Indiana
Martin C. Jischke, President, Purdue University