Campus clashes over cost-saving cuts
October 26, 2010 10:36 PM
More than 200 faculty members and students expressed concerns Oct. 21 regarding the University Planning Advisory Council's proposal to eliminate the University's $18 million deficit by decreasing the number of colleges from eight to six.
"The goal is cost savings," said Robert Collins, associate professor of American Indian studies and member of the University Planning Advisory Committee. "(The committee will do) what we can to maintain our integrity as a university."
The number of SF State students at Thursday's discussion in Knuth Hall increased significantly compared to the first town hall meeting on Sept. 20 when Jack Adams Hall was inundated with faculty.
According to the UPAC website, the council was created by President Robert A. Corrigan as a result of the University's budget crisis. The council, which consists of six faculty, one staff member and three deans, mediates economic proposals between faculty and administrators.
Faculty members worry that if the President approves UPAC's proposal to downsize the number of colleges, certain disciplines will lose credibility because their department could merge with another that may not coincide with their curriculum's academic structure.
"We are in no way associated with creative arts," said program director and professor of museum studies Linda Ellis in front of the nine UPAC members. A significant portion of her students come from the humanities and liberal arts departments, but if the department is moved to the College of Creative Arts, fewer students will join, according to Ellis.
UPAC officials said that although the University has more colleges than any other CSU, more than half of the 23 universities are considering the same steps to reduce their budget deficit.
Thursday's forum opened a dialogue about reorganizing certain disciplines and what can be done to improve the future of the University's structure, said Kurt Daw, dean of the College of Creative Arts and member of UPAC. Daw called the current academic structure a "historical accident," as some colleges, such as the Ethnic Studies department, were created rapidly.
According to the committee, 20 percent of faculty members approve the college restructure.
At the event, approximately 40 people, mainly professors, had three minutes to voice their opinions on the suggested proposal. However, students also voiced concerns.
Creative writing major Von Torres, 22, said that although the formation of UPAC is a positive gesture for improving the University, the committee selection is not because they were appointed by the President.
"It's not a true representation," said Torres who requested the presence of Asians and students on the UPAC council.
Although a student previously served on the committee, they were not replaced following their departure.
UPAC officials encourage faculty and students to visit its website and view or create possible solutions to the $18 million deficit. At least 30 proposals have been submitted since September.
While UPAC members recognize the difficult choice they face, if UPAC did not exist, Corrigan would ultimately make the decision and faculty would have to vote on it by the spring semester.
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