Communications, Slavic Languages Among Units
Considered For Closing Due to Budget Cuts

To meet $12 million in state-mandated budget cuts, the UW must consider closing the School of Communications and the applied math, Slavic languages and literature, and speech communications departments, President Gerberding announced Nov. 30.

In addition, degree programs in fiber arts, systematic musicology and radiological sciences are under review, as is the Institute of Environmental Studies. About 200 non-tenured faculty and staff are likely to be laid off by July 1.

Not all units under review may be eliminated. If all departments and programs on the College of Arts and Sciences list were cut, the UW would save $9.5 million. The college's ultimate goal is a $4.9 million cut. More units are under review to give decision makers flexibility in the final cuts. "In order to have the review process go forward in a fair way, we had to name more programs than will likely be eliminated," Arts and Sciences Dean John Simpson told the Daily.

Units Considered for Closing Biennial Budget

School of Communications.............................................$3,139,000

Dept. of Applied Math.....................................................$2,436,000

Dept. of Speech Communication....................................$2,257,000

Dept. of Slavic Languages and Literature.......................$1,427,000

Inst. for Environmental Studies.......................................$1,449,000

Radiological Sciences Program.........................................$227,000

Fiber Arts Program.............................................................$192,000

Higher Education Speciality (College of Education)...........$117,120

Systematic Musicology.......................................................$103,000

Public hearings on the proposed eliminations were held in January and February. By mid-March, deans and college councils should receive reports from review committees analyzing each possible elimination. Each dean has 30 days to make a final written decision. After those decisions are announced in mid-April, they must be approved by President Gerberding and the Board of Regents. Affected units may initiate an appeal process.

In addition to the $12 million cut mandated by the state, the University is reserving an additional $6.4 million to meet commitments and to cover costs of program eliminations, including the retention of tenured faculty.

At the Nov. 30 meeting announcing the cuts, President Gerberding said, "The passage of Initiative 601 is the immediate cause of this meeting today." I-601 limits the amount the state can spend out of its general fund. In order to fund a salary increase in the 1995-97 budget, the Legislature told the UW and other state universities to plan for a 2.4 percent cut.

"The whole process has been a nightmare," Gerberding told the packed Kane Hall lecture room. "Everyone believes that these programs are the kind that belong at a first-rate university and the University of Washington." But under the legislative mandate, the UW cannot continue to do everything it is currently doing, he added.

Undergraduate students who are majors in an eliminated program will be given a reasonable opportunity to finish their degree. Options for graduate students in programs that are eliminated will be developed by the Graduate School Council. Tenured faculty in closed departments will be offered continuing employment.

The reduction, if implemented during the current legislative session, would bring the University's total state-funded budget cuts to $65 million since 1992, or roughly 10 percent of its state budget. Over three years, more than 600 faculty and staff positions will have been eliminated.

"After enduring $53 million in budget cuts over the past several years, a broad consensus emerged on campus that it was simply no longer acceptable to continue to erode programs in a roughly across-the-board manner," said President Gerberding. "The University is approaching these latest budget cuts with a goal of preserving quality by leaving some programs untouched and reorganizing or eliminating others. The price to pay for this is high and will mean the discontinuation of worthwhile, highly valued programs.

"But in looking closely at the University's budget and what the future prospects are for improved funding in the post-601 world, it became apparent to most of us that we should make some painful decisions in the long-term interests of the University."

Cuts will be felt throughout the University:

* The School of Nursing may consolidate its current four academic departments into three.

* The College of Education is discontinuing the higher education specialty in its doctoral programs.

* The University Libraries will close three branch libraries--Geography, Philosophy, and Political Science--consolidating them into the main Suzzallo and Allen Libraries.

* The University-produced television program "Upon Reflection" will cease production at the end of the season.

* More than 40 positions will be eliminated in the University's physical plant, accounting, and financial services departments, and seven positions will be cut from student services.

Reaction to the cuts was swift. Communications Director Ed Bassett said, "We believe the School of Communications is central to the mission of the University of Washington. We are developing expertise in specialized communications fields that will benefit the citizens of the state of Washington now and in the future. We believe the School of Communications should continue."

The communications school has 20 full-time equivalent (FTE) faculty with 337 undergraduate majors and 69 graduate majors. It is one of 99 accredited communications schools in the nation and has sequences in advertising, public relations, broadcast journalism, editorial journalism and media studies.

The Department of Slavic Languages and Literature has 11 FTE faculty serving 53 undergraduate majors and 26 graduate majors. It offers instruction in Russian, Polish, Czech, Bulgarian, Romanian and Serbo-Croation. It also offers literature courses and sponsors the Russian House as an undergraduate living environment.

The Department of Speech Communications has 12.5 FTE faculty and currently serves 117 undergraduate majors and 49 graduate majors. It offers instruction in public speaking, interpersonal communication, oral interpretation and communication theory.

The Department of Applied Mathematics has 10.5 FTE faculty who teach five undergraduate majors and 37 graduate majors. The field uses mathematical modeling and problem-solving in the physical, biological and social sciences and engineering.

Units under review will be judged by three criteria, said Arts and Sciences Dean Simpson:

* The quality of the program

* The centrality of the program to the mission of the college

* The instructional contribution of the program

Simpson added that his college has already lost 50 faculty and 40 staff positions since 1990, and that vertical cuts are "necessary for the long-term well being of the college."

Send a letter to the editor at columns@u.washington.edu.

Table of Contents