‘Cut to the bone’
After two bouts of budget cuts in the past year, the College of Arts and Sciences, USF?s largest college, finds itself short of money and short on classes.
Interim Dean Renu Khator said the cuts have been hard and nearly impossible to handle.
?Let me put it this way, the cuts were very drastic,? Khator said. ?We?re just basically cut to the bone.?
Khator said the college has attempted to make the impact on the students as little as possible. She said that would be difficult, however, with a reduced faculty and a freeze on new hirings. Khator said without the remaining faculty?s efforts, the cuts would have had a large impact on students? education.
?(Without the faculty), the impact would have been absolutely devastating,? she said. ?I must compliment the faculty. They?ve made the impact much less for the students.?
But Khator said the students are bound to feel some impact, as the amount cut from the college is startling.
Nancy Serrano, budget director for the college, said during the 2001 fiscal year, nearly $4.3 million was cut from the college?s base budget. According to the college?s Web site, the budget before the cut was $16.4 million, which excludes faculty and staff salaries. The cut, therefore, represents roughly a quarter of this budget.
Serrano said that money will not be returned to the budget in future years.
?We?ll never see that money again,? she said. ?It?s gone forever.?
Serrano, like Khator, said much of the cuts were made in a way that would minimize the negative impact on students. She said this was done by first eliminating institutes or centers with little or no student hours and by eliminating vacant faculty positions and adjunct positions.
As part of this elimination, faculty research hours were forced to be cut. Khator said she was saddened to see research affected.
?Research is so important for learning,? Khator said. ?Even to pull that out is very hard on the faculty.?
Khator said with faculty positions eliminated, a lot of hardships, such as extra work and extra hours, have been placed on the existing faculty. Classes have had to be taught with more students and in bigger venues, such as the movie theaters at the University Mall.
Khator said, despite the faculty?s hard work, these hardships will only increase in the coming years.
?The faculty have been very gracious. They care about the students,? she said. ?(But) that kind of a faculty deduction next year is going to create further hardship. It?s going to be a challenge.?
Serrano said, despite the large impact on the faculty and research, more needed to be cut, so the college was forced to look toward undergraduate education.
?We had to look at courses because that?s the only thing we had. That?s what was left,? she said. ?(We were forced) to cut summer significantly.?
Serrano said last summer, $2.3 million was spent on instruction. The college was forced to cut about $1.47 million from the summer budget, leaving about $800,000 for this year.
?(The cuts) meant that we were going to have a very, very sparse summer,? Serrano said.
Serrano said the budget for this summer has been helped by a one-time $500,000 money restoration from the provost.
Khator said she does not want students to be affected, but steps must be taken as the new, greatly reduced budget dictates.
?We put the students first,? she said. ?But there is only so far you can go.?
Khator said the decision on what courses to offer this summer revolves around the needs of students.
?We made sure that students who are graduating will have the course they need to take,? Khator said. ?But that?s it.?
Serrano said in addition, classes that are needed for students to advance in their majors will be offered. She said classes will be ?triaged? based on students needs.
For the summer, Serrano said there will be fewer small sections. Most money will be spent on large classes. Also, advising budgets will be cut.
Serrano said it?s been difficult on the college to know that despite these efforts, some students will be hurt by the cuts.
?It?s been very hard for everybody involved to know that we have some students (who will suffer),? she said. ?That really is difficult because that?s what we?re here to do is serve the students.?
Khator said the overall impact of the cuts is that the college is working on the bare minimum amount of money it needs to survive. She said offering students just the minimum courses does not provide them with many options in their education.
?(Offering the bare minimum), I cannot call that a quality education,? Khator said.
?I just don?t think the departments can do it (much longer).?
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