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MSUM to close $9 million budget gap without layoffs

MSUM President Edna Szymanski

MOORHEAD - Minnesota State University Moorhead will close a $9 million budget gap and balance its books for the next two years without layoffs, President Edna Szymanski announced today.

The university's multi-pronged approach to avoiding layoffs includes offering early retirement incentives, reorganizing classes and other operations and implementing a "banded tuition" model that officials hope will entice students to take more credits and thus boost MSUM's share of the state budget.

MSUM is already down 5 percent in personnel after a hiring freeze was put in place last fall. Staffers in areas such as maintenance are spread thin and will remain so until the budget picture becomes clearer, Szymanski said.

Students can expect to see larger class sizes and less frequent offerings of low-enrollment classes, she said.

"If we pull together, we will get through this, and we will preserve the affordable excellence of this really wonderful place," Szymanski told about 30 staff and administrators who gathered this morning for the first of three town hall budget meetings being held on campus today.

Groundskeeper Gary Lacher, who led the group in a round of applause after the presentation, said he's been through three layoffs or shutdowns in his working career and knows first-hand the stress that comes with trying to find another job.

"I'm very satisfied with what's going on," he said. "There's an increased workload, but people can deal with that for a while until things get a little better."