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Davis, California

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Textiles and Clothing division faces uncertain future

The Textiles and Clothing division is in a precarious position as it deals with the possible downsizing of its administrative structure in the coming year.

The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is considering closing the department by cutting funding and not replacing faculty members, should they retire. The departments of nematology and environmental design have also been recommended for closure.

According to an Academic Prioritization Committee report, the department was targeted for closure due to its small size in context of the college’s current financial woes. The CAES has received a $3.8 million cut in funding out of its $70 million budget for 2009-2010, representing a 5.2 percent reduction.

The division’s current budget, including faculty salaries, is $800,000. Faculty members also bring $500,000 in research grants each year.

“In the report of this committee they felt that the division was not sustainable because there are too few faculty in the division,” said CAES Dean Neal van Alfen in an e-mail interview. “Given that we must make additional cuts in faculty members to adjust our new budgets the committee felt that this division had reached a point where it could no longer be sustained.”

The division, which has over 100 students and five faculty members, is the only one of its kind in the University of California system. The program combines multiple disciplines, ranging from the physical and social sciences.

“There seems to be an assumption that bigger is better,” said Susan Kaiser, professor of textiles and clothing. “We question that assumption because we have been an outstanding major. Our students have been successful in pursuing jobs in the apparel industry and are an important resource for California.”

The closure will not affect the major because closure of an academic unit is controlled by the Academic Senate. However, a budget reduction would affect the quality and resources available to the division.

You-Lo Hsieh, professor and chair of the division of Textile and Clothing, said that cuts would mean fewer TAs for discussions and laboratory courses, reduced maintenance and expansion of facilities and fewer student service and outreach funds.

“All of these are essential for our physical and social science courses, and they enrich the experience for our majors and minors as well as students across campus who take our courses,” Hsieh said.

As of now, an administrative workgroup committee for reorganization is beginning to look at the initial recommendations and will present its own recommendations by mid-February, 2010.

“The recommendation of the [Academic Prioritization Committee] is being considered as our college continues its academic planning,” van Alfen said. “There have been no recommendations to close the undergraduate or graduate majors associated with this division.”

LESLIE TSAN can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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