George Mason Candidate For Big Cut

The institution's position as a source of academic research and entrepreneurial vitality may be jeopardized

The Commonwealth of Virginia may slash the budget of George Mason University by $6 million. If the cut survives, it would give GMU $3,084 in state funding per student, the lowest of any institution in the commonwealth.

The cut would be a major blow to an institution that has led the way in technology policy studies, entrepreneurial programs and computer science for the Northern Virginia economy.

It would also come at a time when the Northern Virginia area is gaining a reputation as a leading technology business area -- particularly in the field of telecommunications.

Reduced funding for GMU could deprive the region of an academic and research catalyst for continued growth similar to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh or the University of Texas in Austin.

GMU President George Johnson is considered a leading innovator in tailoring programs to support workforce issues such as engineering and technology training and software engineering.

But regional leaders, particularly those involved in high-tech contracting, have been quick to fight the Legislature's budget-balancing initiative. For instance, The Northern Virginia Technology Council included restoring the $6 million as a key plank in its legislative agenda. It has also hired a lobbyist to help promote its case in Richmond.

Of the six doctoral-degree granting institutions in the Commonwealth, appropriations per full time student are among the lowest at GMU -- even before the cut. The range: University of Virginia, $7,887; Virginia Commonwealth, $6,333; Virginia Tech, $5,188; William & Mary, $5,135; Old Dominion, $3,443; and George Mason University, $3,422.

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