For the 2009-2010 school year, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) has taken a 5.2 percent cut in funding, a $3.8 million decrease from an approximately $70 million budget. To compensate for this loss, the college plans to cut three departments, collapse faculty positions and reorganize departments.
As a result of the budget crisis the nematology, textiles and clothing and environmental design departments will be closed. When professors from these departments retire, their positions will not be filled and the college will invest progressively less in the department, leading eventually to the departments’ closure.
“These are all very good departments,” said CAES Dean Neal van Alfen said, “but these departments’ paths to excellence are too severely limited by the budget cuts.”
Textiles and clothing, under which 105 undergraduates study, is the only department of its kind in the UC system and the only university program in the state focused on California’s apparel and cotton industry. According to an Academic Prioritization Committee report, the department was targeted for closure because it is at high demographic risk and because it is too small to continue without substantial investments.
“We disagree with the assumption that ‘bigger is better’,” said textiles and clothing faculty member Susan Kaiser. “We have consistently requested more faculty but new positions have gone to other departments.”
Although the textiles and clothing department will be closed, current students in the major will be able to complete their education and graduate as planned. Many faculty members from these three departments have dedicated the majority of their careers to the subjects and while they will not suffer professionally, said Joan Chandler, lecturer and advisor for textiles and clothing, who called the closure “infuriating and demoralizing.”
“As a campus we are losing the rich diversity of courses that have made this campus so exceptional; small academic programs are important to this equation,” Chandler said.
CAES estimates that there will be another 10 to 15 percent cut in funding in the 2010-2011 year, nearing the cuts from 2002-2005 when the college took a 15.7 percent hit.
“We’re planning for the future with the budget and asking how do we maintain our preeminence,” van Alfen said about CAES’ standing as the premier agricultural college in the world. “You have to make the hard decision that you’re not going to do some things in order to do very well in what you lead in.”
– Gabrielle Grow