A year ago, the situation in the College of Arts and Sciences was bleak.
Two bouts of budget cuts saw nearly $4.3 million trimmed from the college’s $53-million budget. The cuts led to reduced faculty research, less advising and a slimmed class schedule. Dean Renu Khator described USF’s largest college as “cut to the bone.”
But Khator and the college chairs made it a priority to keep the effect on students as low as possible. A year later, however, she may no longer be able to make that happen.
The college has begun to brace for what could be a “very severe” 7 percent, $3.7-million cut in the budget. Khator said if the cut is that large, a noticeable effect on the nearly 15,000 students in the college may be unavoidable.
“The unfortunate fact of the matter is (students) may not get the classes (they need),” Khator said. “Students may have a delay in their graduation.”
Khator said the situation, should the upcoming cut be as deep as feared, will be desperate. She said there is no room to expand classes, and the summer schedule may have to be eliminated altogether.
“The impact will be there. It will be painful,” Khator said. “We will do everything that’s possible to really minimize the impact as much as we can.”
Khator said much of the college’s budget is used to pay for instruction. She said none of the 453 full-time instructors will be laid off. That means Khator may be forced to eliminate funds for most of the 181 adjuncts and all of the 40 visiting instructors in the college.
“No matter from where we cut, (there is) just no way (of) avoiding dipping into the pool of adjuncts,” Khator said. “When you have a cut that drastic, all it means is you’re looking at it from all areas.”
Also, Khator said teacher’s assistant positions, which survived last year’s cuts, may have to be trimmed. She said 20 percent of the 571 TA positions may be cut, eliminating 114 jobs.
Khator, as she did after the initial cuts last year, said she is concerned that the quality of education may suffer. She said she has directed the college chairs to do everything they can to minimize the impact.
But, she said, the only recourse the college has right now is to plan for the worst and hope it doesn’t happen.
“I’m just hoping and praying the budget cut is not going to be quite as severe (as projected),” Khator said.