Spring semester sees modest cuts in part-time sections

Reflecting declining revenues tied to a drop in enrollment this fall, Academic Dean Dan Regan has asked department chairs to make a collective $75,000 reduction in part-time and overload faculty expenditures for the spring semester.

This $75,000, according to Regan, represents only 2.9 percent of the $2.6 million allocated to part-time and overload instruction annually.

Departments are in overloads when a full-time faculty member is teaching more than four courses. In this situation, full-time faculty members receive additional payment for the extra courses.

According to figures on Oct. 15, the college enrollment is down about 5 percent when compared with the number of students at the college last year.

In the last two decades, the five Vermont State Colleges have become increasingly dependent upon student tuition, rather than state funding.

Due to this trend, roughly 86 percent of Johnson State College’s revenue is derived from students’ tuition, and enrollment therefore plays a significant role in the funding for programs in a given budget year. This year the college is down roughly 96 students.

“We’re a fairly small institution,” says Regan. “So it stands to reason that enrollment shifts in one direction or another can make a sizeable difference in a particular budget year.”

The collective budget reductions will not affect all departments equally. For example, the Department of Writing and Literature has eliminated two sections of Exposition and Analysis for the spring, but those cuts reflect a lack of demand rather than an effort to shave part-time faculty allocations. “Department Chair Andrea Perham has kept our budget in the black for many years,” says Assistant Professor of Writing and Literature Sharon Twigg, who will serve as department chair in the spring. “We haven’t run over in the area of adjunct hires.”

Each department was asked to eliminate one course if possible, and, if it had a second section of a course that was in overload, to eliminate that.

“There has also been a pretty clear message that courses that don’t receive minimum enrollment in the spring will probably be cut no questions asked, no matter what the justification is,”said Co-chair of the Environmental and Health Sciences Department Brad Moskowitz. “So what’s really important is that, as students start figuring out what classes they need in the spring, they really need to make sure they enroll in those classes, and register for them.”

If a course a student needs in the spring doesn’t receive the minimum enrollment, that student will have to wait until the next semester that it is offered, or find a substitution. Moskowitz believes that Outdoor Education and Physical Education students will be the most affected by the budget cuts, because those programs are losing full courses rather than just sections of courses.

The courses that will not be offered next semester are Toxic and Solid Waste Management (Environmental and Health sciences), Nordic Skiing (Outdoor Education), Principles of Marketing (Business & Economics), Weight Training for Women (Physical Education), Yoga (Physical Education), Native American History and Culture (Humanities), and one section of Finite Math.

Associate Professor of Mathematics Julie Theoret also wanted to create another upper-level math class, a special topics course, because a few students had expressed some interest, but there was no extra money in the budget.

“It wasn’t on the provisional schedule,” Theoret said. “But we mentioned the need to try to see if we could add it in, because we had a bunch of students that needed an upper level math class … but because there was no extra money in the budget, we couldn’t offer it. It is kind of disappointing. Understandable, but disappointing.”