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GPC campuses won't close, cuts possible
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Though no final decisions have been made, interim Georgia Perimeter College president Rob Watts offered good news, no campuses will be closed, and bad news, personnel cuts are likely, during a Friday speech.

"More than 90 percent of the cost of running the college is represented in this room - personnel. The college cannot simply tighten its belt to reach $25 million," Watts told a room full of faculty and staff.

He said he hopes to minimize any reductions on faculty and staff and assured the audience he would not take short-term action that would cause long-term damage.

Cuts will be necessary to balance what could be a $25 million budget deficit, including a $16 million deficit already existing in next year's budget plus the repayment of $9 million the college plans to borrow from other schools before June 30 to balance this fiscal year's remaining deficit.

"I do not have all of the answers today about what happened, nor do I know all the steps we will take to fix things," he said. "You will have my best effort this year to lead the college through the most difficult time in its almost 50-year history and back into financial balance, positioned for a better way forward."

Watts said any financial cuts must protect the college's teaching obligations to its nearly 27,000 students. He said he will focus on his core teaching mission and protect the classroom, including departments that affect students, such as financial aid, facilities management and student life among others.

"Everyone here is a teacher in his or her own way. Our students take away a lesson every time they encounter one of us," he explained.

A team of internal auditors from the Board of Regents is here currently, and a team from the State Audit Office is expected in the near future, he said.

In the meantime, several changes have been made to the college's financial team in an order to get the fiscal house in order.

Ron Stark was named vice president for fiscal affairs, and will be joined Monday by a new associate vice president for fiscal affairs. A new comptroller and a budget officer began have also been put in place.

"We are putting a financial staff in place to fix what's wrong and do things right in the future," Watts said.

Former president Anthony Tricoli stepped down earlier this month from the two-year college in the wake of the budget deficit.