Budget shortfalls cause concern


Due to an anticipated budget shortfall for the upcoming academic year, and a $1.25 million gap that needs to be closed, each department has been asked to reduce its budget by approximately $27,000. Some departments say that they have had to cut more or less than that amount because of the way their programs run. The result is a total of 36 courses being cut from the bulletin next fall.

“We’ve all been asked, in different departments, to make a conscientious effort to reduce costs,” said Associate Professor of Education David McGough. “In that regard we are in the same boat as everyone else. There is a plan under discussion where the education department’s budget will be cut much more significantly. As I understand it, teacher education is a very large part of the campus, 18 to 20 percent of enrollment, so there is a large budget involved in teacher education. The presumption is that there is more money that can be removed.”

According to Dean of Academic Affairs Dan Regan, budget cuts shouldn’t affect students drastically, but what they may notice is fewer classes being taught by part-time faculty members in the fall, which means fewer true electives. Even with the reduction in part-time work load, there will be an increase in new full-time faculty as the eight new faculty searches have not been hindered by the budget and have been figured in. A variety of cost savings and revenue enhancement measures are being discussed.

“Many of the steps and suggestions, either to cut cost or increase revenue, have come from the wider campus community,” says Regan. “There has been a lot of participation in these budget discussions, and I think everybody has been working very hard to ensure that the student experience is not affected. For the most part, I don’t think students will feel a change.”

Regan doesn’t believe that any of the courses being cut will affect student graduation as departments tried not to cut courses required for majors or general education from the schedule.

Every department had to cut a few classes to balance the budget except for the math department, because of the number of math classes that have to be offered both as part of general education and as part of the math major.

“We are offering 19 sections of math classes, 14 of which are general education courses, and they are pretty much always full,” said Julie Theoret, professor and chair of the math department. “Then we are offering three courses within the math major, one interdisciplinary course, and a new computer programming course that we were asked to teach. So we don’t have any electives running that could have been cut. If we don’t offer a class it will put our math majors behind.”

Other departments felt concern over the number of courses that they would have to cut from part-time faculty who have been at the college for years, and decided to cut the full-time faculty overload courses as their first measure, before cutting part-time.

The Business and Economics department had to cut four classes, Personal Finance; Professional Communications; Databases; and Managerial Accounting, three of which were to be taught by full-time faculty members. Managerial Accounting is a requirement for all business majors, but Associate Professor of Businessand Economics Henrique Cezar said that students need not worry.

“Summer courses are not within the budget constraint, only fall and spring,” he said. “So, this class that I cancelled for the fall can be run in a new section this summer. That way the students will still have a chance to take it. The rest of the classes are electives. This department chooses to cut overload from full-time professors rather than fire part-time faculty members, because some of them have been here for over 20 years. So the classes we cut were mostly our classes, not adjuncts’. I think a lot of departments are going the other way.”

According to Associate Professor of Writing and Literature Sharon Twigg, her department decided to look at first-year seminars and composition classes first, because those are the classes that the writing and literature department has the most of.

“We cut one First-year seminar and one college writing 1A section,” she said, “because the number of students we anticipate should fit in three sections instead of four. That’s not too much of an issue. We also cut one literature survey course, World literature I, in the fall which will affect English majors and creative writing majors. The end result is that there are few sections taught by part-time faculty.”

Four courses French III; Spanish III; Twentieth Century US History; and Abnaki and Their Neighbors, were cut from the humanities department next semester, two of which were to be taught by full-time faculty and two by part-time.

“It varies from department to department, but we were asked to come up with 13 credits that could be cut in humanities,” said Professor of Humanities Paul Silver. “I don’t think there are many French or Spanish III students, so cutting those courses shouldn’t affect students. As far as the twentieth century history course goes, that’s unfortunate. I have offered it in the past, but it’s an overload for me, so I cut it out. We are trying to make this as painless as possible.”

Five courses, Survey of Non-Western Traditions in Art; Video Production; one section of Intro to Photography; Life Drawing; and Elementary Art Methods, only one of which was to be taught by full-time faculty, were cut from the art department’s fall curriculum. Elementary Art Methods was cut preemptively because it didn’t run last year, and that causes an issue for art majors looking to graduate, because it is required. Mary Martin, fine and performing arts department co-chair, said the department will find a way to help those students graduate on time. Video Production, which is required for communications majors, was also cut from the art department curriculum for the fall, and students will have to take that course at a later date, unless another solution is found.

“In terms of the effect on our department,” said Martin, “we can only afford one to three independent studies, there are no overload classes being taught, and part-timers are losing classes they thought they were going to teach, which is heartbreaking. Mood-wise, it’s not good for faculty or students.”