Caution tape surrounds the Integrated Learning Center, a $20 million facility scheduled to open next semester. The ILC will face cutbacks in equipment and staff due to Gov. Jane Dee Hull's proposed $13.8 million budget cut for the UA.
Wednesday October 3, 2001
UA budget cuts could significantly trim center's staff and equipment
The Integrated Learning Center - which was scheduled to open in January - will face hurdles as a result of state budget cuts, which could slice $14 million or more from the University of Arizona's 2002 budget.
Lynne Tronsdal, vice president for undergraduate administration, said no definite decisions have been made about the ILC, but officials are laying several possibilities on the table.
She said those options include opening the ILC as a whole, in part or not at all.
"They are trying to come up with the way that will have the least negative effect on students, and that is always a difficult thing to do," Tronsdal said.
The ILC - a $20 million, 119,032 square-foot underground computer and classroom center - was originally set to open for classes this semester, but construction delays last spring caused the center to remain closed while finishing touches were made.
The opening was set back to January with plans to install and test computer equipment this fall.
Carla Stoffle, dean of libraries, said equipment has still not been ordered for the ILC, which would include 250 computer workstations in its Information Commons and additional state-of-the-art technology in the Media Center - an area where faculty could store information and video from their classes for students to access.
She said the Media Center will not open in January because the deadline to order equipment has already passed. Stoffle said the university still has a couple of weeks to order equipment for the Information Commons before that deadline is missed.
The Information Commons will be 12,000 square feet and house 125 computer workstations, 25 multimedia workstations, a tutoring area for 60 people, 23 breakout and group meeting rooms, 30 computer classroom stations, a centralized printing and mail area, and a help and support desk.
Stoffle said though UA President Peter Likins' cabinet and Budget Finance Committee have spent most of their time focused on the recent university hiring cap, she is confident a decision will be made in time to order equipment for the ILC.
She said that at this point, ILC officials would rather the center open in part rather than not open at all. To accomplish this, the number of computer workstations and hours of operation for the ILC would have to be cut back. The number of computers could drop by as much as 25 percent.
She added that staff members the center planned to hire would have to be cut back from 30 employees to "the bare bones."
The original staff request made in the spring called for $2 million in staffing and was cut back to an estimated $1.3 million this fall.
Since then, she said there has been discussion that this number will be cut back even more.
The 30 staff members would have included computer technicians and advisers.
The Freshman Year Center, which was also intended to move into the center in January, is going to have trouble moving in because its equipment was tied up in the same order as the Media Center's.
Likins said although he wants the ILC to open, the center's resources may have to be scaled back to do so.
He said slowing down the build-up of staff in the ILC is feasible and is "very much on the table."
Officials will continue to meet throughout the month to discuss how the budget cuts will affect all university services, and a discussion about the ILC is expected by today, Tronsdal said.
Maggie Burnett contributed to this story