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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Final USU budget cut from Legislature is 18 percent

By Greg Boyles

March 16, 2009 | LOGAN ­ Final numbers are in, and Utah State University will receive an 18 percent budget cut for fiscal year 2010.

The decision was announced Thursday at the end of the Utah legislative session. However, the Legislature was able to back fill 9 percent of the budget reduction, leaving USU with a considerably softer blow, said Michael Kennedy, special assistant to the president of USU for state and federal relations.

"Our ongoing budget reduction is 18 percent, but for one the Legislature gave us 9 percent back," Kennedy said. "However, if the economy doesn’t get better next year USU will have to take the full cut."

However, this may not be necessary.

The Legislature used federal stimulus money to back fill the budget cuts and did not touch the approximate $500 million rainy day fund, Kennedy said. Meaning next year, if the economy continues to slip, there is still a chance the Legislature will be able to aid higher education.

This being said, Kennedy suggested that USU should plan to take the full cut in 2011 as a precaution.

Kennedy said the silver lining of this situation is that USU is not expecting any further budget reductions for 2009. The mandatory furlough, which took place over spring break, and other small cuts thus far have already taken care of 4 percent of the cut, leaving only 5 percent to make up for next year.

A committee of central administrators will be established to determine what programs at USU can be cut, Kennedy said. The committee will be looking at what programs are necessary to continue providing a quality education, and what programs are only a luxury.

The dean of each college is also being asked to outline a plan describing what can be done in their own departments to help with budget cuts, Kennedy said.

"The pain is still there, but it's not as painful as we thought it would be," Kennedy said.


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