Budget cuts distress College of Liberal Arts

Andrew Messamore

Cooperation between three centers within the College of Liberal Arts has grown since last year’s budget cuts, an unintended benefit from a challenging financial situation, said the centers’ directors.

Beginning this semester, the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies will now partner with the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies and the Center for Asian American Studies to pool faculty, graduate and undergraduate resources. Each center suffered substantial budget cuts after a $3.75 million deficit left the College of Liberal Arts unable to sustain its faculties. All of the academic centers provided classes and grants to students interested in their fields, and the cuts were implemented after Dean Randy Diehl met with individual directors to determine their need, said Richard Flores, senior associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

“What happened was, the central administration said that we should keep going with our plan to hire more professors, and then that summer before we started the 2010-2011 session we were told that we wouldn’t be receiving the money we were expecting,” Flores said. “That immediately put us into a deficit. Even if we get more money through higher tuition, we’re talking about 21 departments. That’s a lot of need in the college, and new revenue may not go to the centers.”

After the decision was made to cut funding, each academic center was cut by varying degrees according to the factors selected by the dean’s office, said Susan Heinzelman, the director of the CWGS.

“It had to deal with a lot of factors ranging from how many undergraduate majors we were producing, to our ability to attract alumni to the faculty that we had teaching our classes,” Heinzelman said. “I couldn’t say that there was one primary cause. The most important factor, however, was certainly the decision to base decisions on undergraduate output.”

Heinzelman said the cuts have since provided a stronger bond between the academic centers, resulting in this semester’s cooperative program.

“Since the budget cuts we have been working much more closely with other organizations across campus to get our programs sponsored, but this is something that we have always striven to do,” Heinzelman said. “In a time of crisis, one could say that one gets closer to the people that help you. I wouldn’t say that we have suffered more than anyone else. Everybody has been hurting, and we are doing the best we can to pull through.”

The cuts have caused the Warfield Center to stop offering any classes, said director Frank Guridy. Despite difficulties like these, Guridy said the center has benefited from increased cooperation with other Black studies centers and groups in the College of Liberal Arts.

“This semester we have a faculty workshop that brings together staff from both the Warfield and the women’s and gender studies center,” Guridy said. “We are talking about issues that not only affect our programming but also contribute to the intellectual life of the University. Making a better future is going to involve all of us working with each other while facing dwindling resources.”

Guridy said he does not expect funding to return to previous levels any time soon, but he hopes that the state will continue to support education.

“It would be naive for me to assume that funding is going to go back to what it was,” Guridy said. “Like all departments, we all know that we have to be creative about generating a robust fundraising effort. We are also still insisting upon the state’s ability to support education.”

Printed on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 as: Liberal arts cooperation grows with budget cuts