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Liberty could be hit hard by university cuts

POSTED: March 3, 2010 10:32 a.m.
Budget cuts run up the flagpole Monday by the University System of Georgia would:
• Close Armstrong Atlantic State University’s Liberty Center in Hinesville
• Close the Bamboo Farm and Coastal Gardens north of Richmond Hill
• Eliminate 4-H programs
• Close half of UGA’s county extension offices, though a list of targeted offices was not released.
It is unclear whether anyone will salute the proposals, which statewide could cut system spending by more than $500 million, layoff 4,000 people and end dozens of academic and outreach programs.
Even Chancellor Erroll Davis Jr., in a cover letter to lawmakers, urged against the cuts:
“… We strongly believe that cuts of this nature, if implemented, would severely compromise our ability to provide the educated populace that is necessary for the continued success of this state,” he said.
Lawmakers asked educators last week to come up with a list of possible cuts as they search for roughly $1 billion in savings in the state’s 2011 budget, according to the Associated Press. Budget proposals from Gov. Sonny Perdue already project $256 million less for higher education next year and lawmakers’ requested an additional $300 million, according to Davis.
Besides the direct impact on Liberty County, local students would also face more competition and/or travel to get into certain fields as Armstrong, Georgia Southern and all state universities and colleges cut spending.
At AASU, for example, the cuts would amount to $5 million, but would include cutting five academic programs/departments, meaning 1,190 students could not complete their selected majors at the Savannah campus, according to the system’s summary.

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