I’m throwing out a question as the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents hears from the public later today about the proposed 2010-11 $3.4 billion overall budget.
Why is it that universities increasingly turn to their colleges of liberal arts to cut? I know that may sound naïve and idealistic, but bear with me.
The U’s College of Liberal Arts, the largest at the Twin Cities campus, is expected to lose 52 faculty members — about 10 percent of its tenured and tenure-track faculty. The college also will eliminate 145 class sections, according to a rundown in the Star Tribune.
Of course, the college is not the only academic entity subject to cuts. For example, the medical school plans to cut adjunct positions. A $191 million reduction in state appropriations is said to be driving a lot of the cuts as well as a 4.4 percent tuition hike.
In April I wrote about a CLA committee’s report suggesting a smaller, nimbler college was in order in these times. It acknowledged the need to face the budget landscape, but also appealed for a focus.
“I think the core working belief of the committee we held fast to is that we need to do things for academic and scholarly reasons,” committee co-chair Christopher Uggen said at the time. “Yes, we’re looking at finances, and we need a sustainable economic model, but it is in service of our academic mission and our scholarly vision. That is a much different orientation than pulling up a spreadsheet and saying, ‘Where can we cut?’ ”
Share your thoughts in Comments below.