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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Division of Social Sciences

Shouldering an $830,000 decrease in total funding, the Division of Social Sciences is no exception to recent budget changes.

The division, comprised of 10 different departments and several centers and institutes, is seeing general reductions in faculty and administrative staffing within each of the departments.

“The budget cuts are leading to some reductions in the size of the administrative staff, and the faculty,” said Dean of the Division of Social Sciences, George Mangun. “Over the past year and even before, we have simply not filled positions vacated when people left the university. The cuts also reduced resources available to support special programs, and we have slowed the implementation of new initiatives.”

With almost 2,000 students in the psychology department, faculty members are teaching larger class sizes to accommodate staff reductions and the growing number of students.

“In the past, we’ve taught about 18,000 students. We started out with too few resources to begin with, and now we’re on life support,” said psychology chairperson Debra Long. “We were given a budget cut that was 50 percent smaller than their worst case estimate, and now we have to make the changes that come with receiving less money.”

Cutbacks in administrative staffing by offering incentive for early retirement have been implemented to adjust to the decreases in funding. In the anthropology department, changes in staffing due to retirement have resulted in vacancies that cannot be filled.

“One of our important faculty members … has just retired and we’re not replacing him,” said anthropology’s chairperson Robert Bettinger. “This creates a huge hole in the program. We expect to bring in other people to fill the vacancies and that’s just not happening.”

Despite these already existing changes, Mangun and administrative staff are engaging in a planning process to develop more changes to handle the 2.1 percent budget reductions made to the division. Having recently traveled to UC San Diego to meet with Jeff Elman, Dean of the Division of Social Sciences, Mangun is collaborating with different campuses to help solve the budget crisis problem.

“It is very useful to compare notes with other deans. I have learned that there is great overlap in perceptions, understanding and actions among UC deans related to the challenges faced by the budget crisis. This means we are moving in the right direction in our planning.”

– Rebecca Shragge


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