Idaho's public universities and colleges made headlines twice this week for their financial activities. First, on March 21, the Idaho Senate soundly passed a bill allowing Boise State, Idaho State and Lewis and Clark State College to charge tuition to all full-time and part-time students. The University of Idaho was conspicuously left out of the tuition, under the explanation that such legislation would contradict the University's constitution. The bill is currently awaiting approval from Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, a U of I graduate who is often seen donning his alma mater's colors at public events.
In a prepared statement, Idaho State Board of Education president Roderic Lewis lauded the bill, saying, "Allowing tuition will give greater clarity and transparency in the institutions use of student dollars. Approval of tuition simply allows our institutions to allocate those fees where they are needed most." Just how much this clarity and transparency will cost Idaho's colleges students was not explained in the text of the legislation.
On March 28, U of I further announced that the school faces a $4.75 million deficit for its 2005-06 school year, and will lay off 27 staff members and eliminate 40 vacant positions. According to a statement from university president Tim White, none of the layoffs will be from the ranks of the academic faculty, but instead are mostly from technology and facilities departments. White indicated that the job cuts were intended to be short-term only.