Departments tighten belts in response to cuts

Academic departments throughout the college are making cuts in expenses and scraping for funds as their non-personnel budgets have been substantially reduced.

Faculty members were initially notified of the impending reductions in a memo sent on Nov. 21 after the overall budget had to be cut by 1 percent. The cuts were allocated to the different departments by vice presidents.

Nearly all departments are alleviating the cuts by reducing the amount of paper copies professors can make. English department chair Richard Finkelstein said his department is "encouraging [faculty] to both save us money and be more green" by putting materials on MyCourses.

Since many courses require hard copies of material to be used in class, students are forced to print more, potentially adding to their printer balance.

For many departments, simply cutting out copying expenses is not enough. The English department has cut its department annual, which showcases award-winning writing from students.

"We've had to cut way back in our tutoring hours," said chemistry department chair David Geiger. He said that the budget cuts have also postponed the replacement of aging or unusable equipment.

"We have a lot of fixed costs in terms of equipment and keeping equipment running" that are being threatened, said biology chair Ray Spear. Since most of the equipment in the Integrated Science Center is new, not as much of it needs to be replaced at this time. "So far, we've been able to keep up," Spear said. "But it's an increasing problem and it's only going to get worse."

"So far, we're able to operate under normal conditions," said communication chair Joseph Bulsys. Unfortunately, he noted, "We certainly can't operate the same way for semesters into the future if things stay as they are."

Geological sciences chair D. Jeffrey Over said, "We are concerned about funding the field trips that we usually run." One consideration is to charge students a fee to keep them operational.

Osman Alawiye, dean of the School of Education, said that the cuts mean a shortfall in funding for student teaching. He said that although the department can use money from its Foundation account to make up the difference, he hopes the college will come through with the money. "We have confidence in the college that the president and the administration are doing all they can," he said.

Other departments are also considering tapping reserve funds. "We have a small amount of private funds from alumni that contribute directly to the [English] department," said Finkelstein. Over said his department was looking for grants and other revenue streams to supply the lost funds.

By their nature, some departments are more dependent on funding than others. "We're philosophers - we think," said philosophy professor Larry Blackman. "Since we don't spend that much, we're the ideal department," he said. Blackman said, however, he was concerned with the effects of the hiring freeze, noting that the department is down two full-time professors from several years ago.

"We're trying to do everything we can to maintain the academic program and to take actions that don't result in the kinds of personnel actions that nobody wants to see," said Kenneth Levison, vice president of administration and finance. He said that though any cuts at this point are unpleasant, faculty layoffs or programming cuts would be even "less acceptable."

Factoring in all cuts and the tuition increase, he expects the college to be within about $250,000 of breaking even by the end of the year. Next year, though, the college may face a budgetary gap of over $1 million.