Bemidji State cuts budget to meet $5 million deficit

Bemidji State University and its partner Northwest Technical College released a budget plan Thursday that cuts four programs, reduces the size of 18 others and eliminates about 50 jobs. About 40 are faculty positions and 10 are administrative positions, according to school officials.

The plan also cuts the school's indoor and outdoor track teams.

The two schools face a $5 million budget deficit over the next two fiscal years.

Michael Meehlhause, co-president of the Bemidji State University student Senate, says students expected the cuts because of the school's budget deficit.

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"A lot of students realized that there were going to be cuts coming. You hope it's not your program or not your team, or not somebody you know," said Meehlhause.

The academic programs to be eliminated are art history; environmental landscaping; massage therapy and one additional program to be confirmed at a later date.

Bemidji State officials say the plan will allow them to focus more resources on emerging fields such as science and engineering, and boost distinctive programs such as Native American studies.

The plan also calls for increasing student completion rates by 20 percent, creating three-year baccalaureate programs with a plan to launch a test program in the fall of 2011, and taking steps to pursue a 25 percent reduction in student loan dependency.

St. Cloud State University and Minnesota State University at Mankato went through similar budget cuts and program changes last year.