Marching band defies cuts

RENO — The University of Nevada, Reno marching band and supporters are refusing to yield to budget cuts that threaten the band’s existence.

More than 100 band members, alumni and supporters had a campus rally Wednesday before a meeting with UNR President Milton Glick, who said the band and the university’s oral history program will not remain in their present form.

The group also protested the firing of the band program’s assistant director.

A petition to reverse that plan was circulated, and some members said they would be willing to give up their band scholarships to save the program.

Others urged corporate sponsors to step forward and save the band.

Glick, speaking to hundreds of faculty, students and staff, remarked that the band known as the “Pride of the Sierra” played the university’s alma mater “quite movingly as I walked by.”

But emotions aside, he said that changes must be made concerning the band and the school’s oral history program.

“So we will have to reconfigure and maintain (the band) in a different form at a lower cost. Is it important?” he said of the band. “Yes. Is it as important as getting into the English class you need? No.”

He added, “We decided to look at not having the Oral History Program in its present form. That doesn’t mean we won’t be doing oral history.”

The university last week sent notices of termination effective July 1, 2009, to 32 administrative faculty and four academic faculty, only one who is teaching.

Glick said offers of buyouts were sent Wednesday to faculty and staff based on their ages and years of service.

The university weathered a 4.5 percent governor-mandated cut that took $8.4 million from the 2007-08 budget, but Glick said additional state reductions “will change this university” and result in cutting programs.

In 2008-09, UNR faced a state funding shortfall of $16.5 million, but by deferring one-time expenditures and other measures, has been able to reduce that to $10 million in cuts still to be made.

But Glick said he’s fearful of the impact Gov. Jim Gibbons’ proposed statewide 14.12 percent cuts will have on higher education in 2009-10.

That would mean $31.2 million less for UNR, but the 36 faculty members who will lose their jobs next year will result in a savings of $3.7 million.

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