A&S proposes merging departments
The Board of Regents decided recently to impose a university-wide cut of $9 million, which, according to Barbara Anderson, associate provost, led to a request from the provost for an across-the-board 5.1 percent cut to all units at Seton Hall University.
This means that for the next fiscal year, beginning July 1, all colleges and schools on campus, as well as athletics, the library, maintenance and the provost’s office have been asked to cut 5.1 percent of their current operating budget.
For the College of Arts and Sciences, a 5.1 percent budget cut amounts to $1.3 million, according to Joseph Marbach, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
“This is the largest budget cut I’ve faced in the four years I’ve been dean,” Marbach said, adding that in 2006, there was a 2.5 percent cut.
Marbach said he has, along with Charles Carter, associate dean for academic affairs and planning in the College of Arts and Sciences, worked to create a plan that will hopefully minimally impact students and faculty.
“There’s been some difficulty with that, though, because of prior budget cuts, 90 percent of our budget is allocated to instructional purposes,” Marbach said. “There’s not a lot of room (left) to cut.”
Marbach said in order to meet the budget requirement he has created a proposal to re-organize the College of Arts and Sciences, where some smaller departments will be combined and some majors will be merged.
In addition to these cuts, which Marbach said would cut costs by reducing administrative needs, there will be less money in the budget for adjunct faculty and to pay faculty to travel to conferences, which will lead to slightly larger classes.
Sophomore Lianne Messina, who has a minor in social work, said she wasn’t too concerned about the reorganization. “Because I am an elementary and special education major with a minor in social work, the change of title would not play too much of a role in my degree,” Messina said. “At least I hope this is the case.”
Sophomore Valerie Nobile, however, who majors in social work, said that she would be very disappointed if the proposed change took place.
“I came to Seton Hall to major in what I am interested in and for them to try and change it in the middle of my college career would be absurd,” Nobile said. “This is my future they are messing with and it should not be taken lightly.”
Marbach expressed disappointment in the across-the-board cuts because he feels academic affairs should not have had to cut the same amount as other areas on campus.
“Academic affairs are the last place I’d want to cut, first because education is our central mission…and secondly it’s our primary revenue generator – tuition money,” Marbach said.
Anderson, however, said the provost’s office is willing to work with the deans on their proposals and the across-the-board cuts were and will continue to be strategically evaluated.
Anderson added the provost’s office asked deans to do their best to minimize the impact on students and if the provost’s office felt the cuts were too damaging to students, they would offer different suggestions for the cuts.
According to Anderson, the library had considered cutting some Internet journal databases; however, they are now considering cutting back library hours, as the provost’s office feels this is a better solution for students.
Marbach said the reorganization proposal for the College of Arts and Sciences has been sent to the provost and the faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences, who will vote on the proposal in a special meeting on April 23.
“If the faculty rejects the plan, we have to go back and work more on it,” Marbach said.
Other schools are also working on a plan to meet the budget request for next year, including the College of Education and Human Services, which, according to Dean Joseph DePierro, already has a plan ready to be implemented.
“We want the budget cuts to have as little impact as possible upon the quality of instruction our students receive,” DePierro said in an e-mail interview.
Karen Boroff, dean of the Stillman School of Business, and Courtney Smith, assistant dean of the Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations, are also currently working on their school’s budget reduction plans, although they are still relatively early on in their processes.
“We have submitted a proposal to the provost and are waiting to hear back with the response so that we can negotiate back and forth,” Smith said.
Smith said the Whitehead School was still resolving some budgetary issues from last year, complicating this year’s request for a 5.1 percent budgetary cut.
Now the school has to find more solutions, especially since the school has decreased its class offerings already by 25 percent.
Boroff feels that, while the cuts are difficult, it is necessary for the university to live within its means to thrive.
The new budget will go into effect on July 1, according to Anderson.
Caitlin Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.