SPECIAL SERIES : SF State Budget Woes
Gerontology Threatened by Budget Plan
Proposed budget cuts may spell doom for California's oldest Gerontology program
April 19, 2004 7:46 PM
SF State's gerontology department, first of its kind in the University of California and California State University systems, is part of a package of proposed cuts that might dismantle the program.
SF State’s gerontology department offers one of five masters programs in the College of Health and Human Services. As a result of a $10.3 million budget reduction required from Academic Affairs, the department is slated to be cut, according to a university announcement Monday.
“Campuses across the country look at SF State for foresight to promote gerontology,” said Brian de Vries, director of gerontology.
SF State's gerontology program is the only public graduate-level program of its kind in northern Cailfornia and one of the largest in the entire state, according to de Vries.
The program operates on an annual budget of $250,000, which is $26,492 less than SF State president Robert Corrigan’s annual executive salary plus compensation, according to documents obtained by Xpress.
SF State's 60+ organization, also known as Urban Elders, is under the umbrella of the gerontology department. Coordinator Eileen Ward questioned the university's proposed cut to the department.
“How huge of an impact on the budget can we have? There are only three professors,” said Ward, whose 500-member organization will be terminated with the department if the cuts are approved.
“Financially I think the department should be expanded,” Ward said.
John Fecondo, a master’s student in the department, recognized the budget crisis but still felt the program to be a necessity.
“Granted it is expensive to obtain a higher level instruction,” Fecondo said, “but education equals jobs.”
“The professors’ office space is already little, and all the classes are in out of the way basements,” Fecondo said in relating the plight of an already small program.
On the other end of the spectrum lie the instructors and members of the 60+ organization who see the cuts in separate but dreary circumstances.
“Cutting gerontology is like taking away early education,” said Jeanette Bemis, an instructor of consumer education at City College of San Francisco.
“With an ever increasing elderly population, cutting the program doesn’t make sense,” Bemis said.
“I strongly urge President Corrigan to continue the program,” said Ruth Manber, a member of the 60+ organization.
“The way they’re (administrators) spending money, they should give themselves a cut,” she said.
Manber added that the gerontology program is a very important part of the university.
In fact recently, according to de Vries, the gerontology program was one of only three programs in the United States to be offered an alliance with the European Union (E.U.) on an international gerontology curriculum.
“Our program has a solid history and is well respected,” de Vries said.
Some feel that even though the program contributes a lot to the community and the study of gerontology in general, the budget is the deciding factor.
“It’s all a numbers game,” Fecondo said.
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