The Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies will see a 2.1 percent budget reduction in its financial base for 2009-2010. This cut is considered to be a lower reduction compared to the other academic units.
Although not anticipated to be permanent, the across-the-board division cuts represent thousands of lost dollars. Already, the division has made reductions of $490,000 in March and $280,000 in August.
The Office of Resource Management and Planning Review expects reductions will force the division to cut 40 classes in 2009-2010 and will increase the student to faculty ratio.
Faculty and graduate students have voiced their concern about the negative effects the cuts will have on the school.
Catherine Fung, an associate instructor in the Department of English, said that the situation has limited graduate student employment.
“When I first entered the program, getting a TA-ship was fairly easy. Now we’re seeing limits to teaching appointments get enforced more,” Fung said in an e-mail interview. “Departments can’t as easily offer graduate students teaching positions for consecutive quarters.”
Kevin Roddy, a lecturer for medieval and early modern studies, has witnessed the direct impact of the reduction. He said that because of his retirement from the program next June, his half-time position has already been closed.
Roddy said that the cuts would result in declining class choices for students, and such a loss would have long term consequences for the departments.
“As tenured faculty depart, the resultant savings will be shifted to other, more profitable units on campus,” Roddy said in an e-mail interview. “As for the state and the nation, they will lose that which has made its citizens most human.”
The cuts have also adversely affected the University Writing Program. Fifteen upper division UWP courses have been cancelled for Winter and Spring 2010, leading to layoffs.
“The reality of the situation is that many UWP courses required for graduation are gone and not coming back in the foreseeable future,” said Gretchen Braun, one of five UWP lecturers who was recently laid off. In an e-mail interview she said that the cuts could lead to students waiting longer to complete their degrees because UWP is a requirement for many majors.
“It is my personal opinion that alternative budget reduction options should be explored; dramatically reducing teaching staff diminishes both the quality and the accessibility of undergraduate education,” Braun said.
The administration has viewed the cuts as a necessary measure. Ian Blake, assistant dean of the Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies division, said the dynamics of the economy forced the cuts.
“No one wants to be making cuts but we are all facing a new economic reality in the state of California,” Blake said in an email interview. “We will need to become a smaller university. The challenge is to maintain and indeed enhance quality with fewer faculty and staff.”
– Leslie Tsan