UT’s fine arts may suffer in next round of budget cuts

Allison Harris

University budget cuts during the next school year will most likely reduce the number of adjunct faculty and teaching assistants in the College of Fine Arts, leading to larger classes, said Fine Arts Council President Adam Hagerman.

The Fine Arts Council hosted a public forum Wednesday attended by about 45 people to educate students on how University-wide budget cuts would impact the college.

College of Fine Arts Dean Douglas Dempster said the University faces a 10-percent budget cut of $33 million. However, the Texas Legislature proposed an initial budget cut in January of nearly 30 percent, or about $100 million.

“My personal speculation on this is that the 10-percent cut that we’re expecting right now is the best case scenario,” he said.

Hagerman, a music and European studies senior, said larger classes will reduce educational quality, particularly in fine arts.

“We’re a very individually based education system, whether it be the art studios or music private lessons or the smaller theater classes,” he said.

Most of the $1.1 million cut to the College came from cuts to stipends paid to graduate teaching assistants and faculty travel and research expenses, Hagerman said. The instructional budgets for academic departments will be cut 4 percent. Hagerman said elective courses for non-majors could be the first to be cut.

“I think students enjoy taking those classes,” he said. “I think they’re beneficial to their overall education, and I think it’s critical to their development as human beings.”

Butler School of Music director B. Glenn Chandler said he is concerned with the expected $50,000 cut to graduate assistantships in his department in next year’s budget.

“It not only affects our ability to deliver good curriculum but also our ability to attract good students,” he said.

Brant Pope, chair of the Theatre and Dance Department, said the University provost and Dempster initiated a program to help fund graduate students to teach non-major courses in the department so they wouldn’t be eliminated.

“When we’re up against the wall, we’re going to serve our majors first,” he said. “If we can’t staff our majors courses, how are we possibly going to staff these?”

Jazz performance and government junior Julian Dominguez came to the event to give information on the college’s budget as the Fine Arts Council’s representative for the Senate of College Councils. He said he has already seen the impact of budget cuts.

“I’ve already heard from peers about their professors that they studied closely with being gone and kind of being at a loss for next year,” he said. “I can definitely see the impacts — negative impacts — but I don’t feel the administration can do much more.”