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Cuts infect ‘Public Health’

The College of Public Health is reorganizing its employment makeup in order to adapt to budget cuts. As a result, it is cutting at least eight entry-level faculty positions.

For one track, the college has had to compensate by relying solely on one professor to teach that area.

“We have basically one faculty member that has been teaching the environmental health area,” executive associate dean for the College of Public Health Phil Marty said.

Marty said the college had a second position that was open for that area but it’s one of the positions being eliminated.

“It complicates our efforts to meet the teaching needs of that area, and it really requires us to try to figure out how to use other methods to address the coursework and the concentrations students are pursuing here in the college,” he said.

In fact, the College of Public Health may resort to cutting certain concentrations – or different areas of study – within the college, if they don’t have enough faculty members to teach the courses.

“We may end up having to cut some concentrations, Marty said. “We have a number of concentrations, but if you don’t have faculty to provide teaching in each of those areas…”

The $430,574 reduction will also translate into larger class sizes, the use of more adjuncts and part-time staff, and fewer opportunities to pursue grants.

Instead of decreasing the number of courses offered, the College of Public Health will fill the faculty positions with adjuncts.

“Ultimately you have to use dollars that are either temporary, like Other Personnel Services expenditures and hire adjuncts or you end up trying to hire people that have less than a full FTE,” Marty said. “An FTE is a full-time equivalent, which means a full-time staff member.”

“So, instead of hiring somebody that is full-time, you hire somebody that (works) 25 percent (of the time),” he said. “We end up having to piece pieces together like that of state dollars and try to patch some of the holes.”

Adapting to the budget cuts will take time and some creative efforts, Marty said.

“If you have a faculty line cut and it’s in a popular area, sometimes the only way you can plug that hole, so to speak, is through attrition or retirement in some other areas of the college,” Marty said. “That might take several years to accomplish that.”In the meantime we’ll have to use the part-time staff and adjuncts to cover the teaching we have.”

In a year or two students may face fewer course offerings.”Another thing that happens with the budget cuts, especially when it requires that you lose faculty lines, is it makes it more difficult to meet the student credit hour targets that various units especially like ours have,” Marty said. ” And that ultimately then can result in the budget cuts in the following year or two.”

The loss of faculty will also negatively affect the college’s research capabilities, Marty said.

“Faculty are the ones that write grants, secure external dollars for research programs for the graduate training. So, it’s an unfortunate side effect that it has on our research programs.”