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UNK union asks NU Board of Regents, Legislature to step in and save campus jobs and programs

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UNK union asks NU Board of Regents, Legislature to step in and save campus jobs and programs

Nov 29, 2023 | 9:45 pm ET
By Aaron Sanderford
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UNK union asks NU Board of Regents, Legislature to step in and save campus jobs and programs
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The University of Nebraska at Kearney campus. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

LINCOLN — The union representing faculty at the University of Nebraska at Kearney called on the NU Board of Regents and the Legislature on Wednesday to restore part of the $4.3 million in proposed budget cuts.

The union shared a petition circulated to UNK faculty, staff, students and community boosters urging fewer cuts to the central Nebraska campus. They urged the board to reconsider its approach and accept smaller cuts to faculty posts — specifically, 15 positions instead of 24.5. A group of faculty had recommended that smaller number. 

More than 240 people signed a statement saying they oppose “any actions that would undermine the viability and integrity of the University of Nebraska at Kearney.” It called the cuts “a very real threat to the experience UNK can provide its students.”

Political science professor Will Avilés, president of the UNK Education Association, said people outside theTri Cities might be missing “some of the pain and anger” that local supporters of music and theater at Kearney are feeling.

It’s not just people who attend shows who risk missing out, he said. It’s the people who have hired students and faculty members for music lessons, voice lessons and acting lessons who would be losing “a vital resource,” too.

“Disproportionately these cuts are affecting those parts of our campus that, for a lot of our people, they hold very dear,” he said. “They’re fearful about what’s going to be the future of these programs going forward.”

The group asked UNK supporters to pressure Kearney-area Regent Paul Kenney and State Sen. John Lowe of Kearney to do more to convince their peers of UNK’s important role in the region’s economic development and business and cultural vibrancy.

Of particular concern was the proposed elimination of the entire theater and recreation management programs and proposed elimination of eight degree programs, including geography and music theater. The university has said current students will be able to finish their degrees.

The proposed cuts in Kearney are part of a broader, university-wide effort by departing NU President Ted Carter to close a projected $58 million budget shortfall system-wide. University officials expect more cuts over the next year.