Faced with another round of budget cuts next year totaling $34 million, the state Higher Education Policy Commission will ask lawmakers to exempt the states colleges and universities from the reduction.

Requesting an exemption from next years proposed 9 percent budget cut is our highest priority,Chancellor J. Michael Mullen told commissioners Friday (Aug. 22).Higher education simply cannot maintain existing services and offer quality education at the current level with this magnitude of a cut for FY 2005 .

Going into FY 2004 , the higher education budget was cut by $37.8 million. The cuts for fiscal years 2004 and 2005 together total $71.7 million.

For WVU , the cut proposed for next year totals $15.4 million for the Morgantown campus alone. Adding in the regional campuses, the cut amounts to over $17.5 million.

Mullen plans to meet with university and college presidents over the next week to form a unified plan of action as it relates to next years state budget. He will present that plan during a special HEPC teleconference meeting Aug. 29.

If we are not exempted, well be relying on huge tuition increases again to recoup some of the money cut,Mullen said.We could be talking 11 percentand that might not be enough.

Last spring, WVU raised in-state tuition effective this fall by 9.5 percent.

You can only raise tuition so much before the bottom starts falling out,Mullen warned.There comes a point when people realize you are not worth the price.

In other business, commissioners:

  • p. approved $1.14 million in Research Challenge funds for WVU . The money will be used to continue support for four research ventures. They include the Biometrics Knowledge Center and three other projects on proteomics and cancer, additives for superior plastics performance and using GIS and virtual reality.

  • p. gave the go ahead for construction of a building for the WVU Eastern Division Health Sciences Clinical Campus. The 33,000 square foot facility will be built on two acres of land leased from, and contiguous to, City Hospital in Martinsburg. The $6.3 million price tag is being funded by the U.S. Dept. Of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

  • p. approved more than $13,000 in grants for six WVU social justice initiatives

  • p. approved supplemental funding of $200,000 each for the WVU Reedsville Farm and a health study at the University

  • p. discussed changing the admission standards for students enrolling in the states colleges and universities to require them to report their scores on the new writing components being introduced on the SAT and ACT entrance exams. Chancellor Mullen said hell likely recommend to the commission this fall that the change be made. WVU is already moving on its own to make the change. The Universitys Board of Governors will be asked to approve it next