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Professor compares McDavis to Mubarak

Applause erupted throughout Baker University Center Theatre yesterday afternoon as Ohio University administrators listened to a professor sound off against the current budget crisis.

Steve Hays, associate professor of classics and world religions, directly called out OU President Roderick McDavis and the panel of advisers present during the Open Budget Forum.

"The university needs to pull together during hard times, like a family that is going through hard financial times," Hays said. "Here we are trying to discuss how to solve our problems as a family, and dad is flying around the beach someplace ... going off to the country club to deal with some rich people or something."

Although the lower level of administration is working hard to fix the budget, Hays said, it was time for them to stop being "good soldiers."

"You are being good soldiers for (McDavis), and there comes a time when you need to stop being good soldiers for him," he said. "Just like the army stopped being good soldiers for (Hosni) Mubarak in Egypt. There needs to be a change. He has got to go."

The panel consisted of Pam Benoit, executive vice president and provost; Stephen Golding, vice president for Finance and Administration; Mike Angelini, associate vice president for Finance; Greg Fialko, director of benefits, John Day, associate provost for academic budget and planning; and Ann Fidler, executive associate provost.

Discussion ranged from health care to parking services to athletics.

The main thing to remember is that this budget deficit is not something that is going to be fixed overnight, Golding said, adding that OU has plans that span the next couple of years.

"It is important that every unit in the university helps to find a solution," Golding said. "It is important that we think of this as a multi-year issue, not just a single-year event."

OU is preparing for a possible 10 percent decrease in state funding - only one of two problems the university is facing, Golding said.

"We have the first problem, which is to deal with the $27 million cut, or whatever it turns out to be, because that is truly the structural deficit that we have to plan for," he said. "The second problem is implementing responsibilities so our management (of the deficit) doesn't happen in one year, so we need a three- to five-year period."

OU is discussing what percentage of the state funding cuts each department will have to cover, and officials have identified certain units where the university can make cuts, such as Intercollegiate Athletics and the Division of Student Affairs, said Benoit, who did not detail specific cuts OU is considering.

"We are not looking (at 10 percent across the board), although we started the planning exercise by looking at 10 percent cuts ... Across the board cuts are not effective," she said.

One particular area of interest for the audience was the proposed plan to split the expected $5 million increase in health care costs between OU and employees.

"We have tried to deal with the problem a little bit differently this year," Golding said. "It's to not go back in and change the benefit but to go back in and change the cost and the way the cost is distributed ... But if we can't reduce it enough, then we have to look at cutting benefits as opposed to cutting employment, or we can look at some way of sharing costs on some sort of representative basis."


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