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Student Accounts Safe from Fund Cuts

By Marissa Vogt

STAFF REPORTER

Planned budget cuts will not affect interest-bearing student group accounts after Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict pledged to fund interest that would have been diverted.

As part of President Charles M. Vest’s announced budget cuts, interest payments on “Pool C” accounts will be diverted to the Institute general fund. Benedict has pledged to supply funding for interest on Pool C student group accounts.

“The only other place where they would be affected would be Pool A accounts, and to my knowledge there are no student groups with those accounts,” Benedict said. “To my knowledge there are no other ways that student groups will be negatively affected.”

Tracy F. Purinton, assistant dean for student activities, said that there are approximately eight student groups with Pool C accounts, and 10 more that could feel the effects of the budget cuts.

These 10 accounts were placed in a new category -- Pool B -- which is being treated similarly to Pool C. The dean’s office is looking into covering interest for these accounts as well, Purinton said.

Main goal to preserve fellowships

The budget cuts also resulted in a $6 million reduction in the Presidential Fellowship Program.

“We will work hard to maintain or strengthen student financial aid. Also, one of our largest ongoing new expenditures is subsidizing graduate research assistantships and teaching assistantships and in effect paying the summer tuition of most graduate students working only on thesis research,” Vest said.

Diane E. McLaughlin, assistant dean for finance and administration in the school of architecture and planning, said that the school’s primary goal is to keep fellowships intact and continue funding new programs so the department can continue to attract new faculty.

Deans prepare for cuts

Provost Robert A. Brown said that letters have been sent to the deans of each school and that they will be submitting their budgets and expected cuts by Friday. He did not reveal the amount of money that will be cut from each school, which will vary from school to school.

“Most of what the Institute must adjust to is lack of revenue growth. As units adjust to this lack of growth by reallocating funds from one purpose to another, there will be local cuts, but there is no across-the-board cut,” Vest said.

Deans of the schools say that, in general, the effects of the budget cuts will not be focused on one particular program or department, but will be spread out within the school so that the cuts will not be felt as much.

Dean of the School of Engineering Thomas L. Magnanti said that “within the school, we’re trying to redirect money in a way that will minimize the effect on students.” He said that he intends to achieve this goal by not eliminating classes, and maintaining support for TAs, while cutting graduate student programs with little student interest. The budget cuts, he says, will be spread across the school in all but one department, ocean engineering.

Philip S. Khoury, dean of the school of humanities, arts, and social sciences, said that the departments that have more endowed and pool funds will be affected most, because of the nature of MIT’s recent financial losses. He said that because MIT did extremely well in its investments in the late 1990s, some departments felt “considerably wealthier” than they were.

“We are cutting back, but not nearly as much as the payoff we enjoyed,” Khoury said.