Cutbacks coming to Meredith College?

RALEIGH But the president of the college off of Hillsborough Street tells students in a letter that things aren't bad right now.

Apparently students have been talking about concerns all year.

However, a memo ABC11 received Friday came from a faculty member, who is unnerved and obviously not alone.

"The memo is from our faculty council expressing concerns," said Kristi McLennan with Meredith College Marketing.

Meredith officials say the internal memo circulating on campus is in fact authentic, voicing fear over the darkening hour of a $1.4 million budget cut.

"I can't really comment on any specific department," McLennan said.

McLennan says she cannot address details. Despite reductions last spring, the letter says this year's budget is over almost $1 million.

Some faculty members say they are frustrated following heavy cuts in the classroom and worry cuts will hurt retention.

Some professors also feel administrators most responsible for the crisis should be held accountable.

"A lot of people are very frustrated about the fact that they're dropping majors and dropping some professors that I've heard, I'm not sure if that's true or not," Meredith senior Sally Unrein said. "I do know that the French Major has been dropped as well as Women's studies."

Talk among students during a busy homecoming week prompted a letter from college president Maureen Hartford.

"I am aware that there are many rumors circulating about the state of Meredith's budget, and as a result, some students may be feeling anxious about the college's financial situation," she wrote in the letter. "I assure you Meredith remains both financially and academically sound."

With its accreditation up for renewal next year and an economic downturn, the timing for the largest private women's college in the southeast couldn't be worse.

Officials say it's similar to what many of the nation's colleges are dealing with.

"We welcome the concerns of faculty, staff and students because we know they care about the college," McLennan said.

Professors are also worried about pay cuts, layoffs and a loss in retirement benefits.

Officials say they are only in the preliminary planning stages.

Next Wednesday administrators will hold a series of budget forums with students and faculty.

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