Will budget cuts result in fewer classes?
Published: Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Updated: Thursday, March 3, 2011 15:03
Brockport students enrolling after spring 2012 could face fewer general education course offerings and fewer general education requirements. Due in part to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed 2011-12 budget, which includes significant SUNY budget cuts, Brockport academic departments were asked to cut their budgets by hiring fewer adjunct professors and offering fewer general education courses, said History Department Chair Alison Parker.
Brockport is eliminating some general education requirements such as the American history requirement, Parker said. She added that Brockport students who enroll after spring '12 will have to fulfill seven of 10 general education requirements.
The current general education system requires students to fulfill between 15 and 16 general education requirements (depending on whether the student completed the high school foreign language regents exam with an 85 or better). However, students can often satisfy a general education requirement with a course that is required for his or her major.
"The changes in general education requirements are being driven, in large part, by the budget cuts," said Virginia Bacheler, associate dean for the school of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
Cuomo's proposed 2011-12 budget includes an $88 million cut in state support to SUNY schools, according to a letter from Lou Spiro, vice president of administration and finance. The proposed budget will cut the SUNY budget by 10 percent, or $226 per student, the news website Syracuse.com reported.
Cuomo's budget proposal could undergo changes before it's finalized. The budget is due for completion April 1; however, it is sometimes completed after this date. Last year's budget was completed Aug. 3, 125 days late.
Anne Huot, provost and vice president of academic affairs, could not be reached for comment on the possible adjunct budget cuts as of press time, Monday, Feb. 7. Associate Vice Provost Eileen Daniel told the Stylus there are no plans for adjunct budget cuts because Cuomo's budget isn't finalized yet.
However, Parker, history department chair, said Cuomo's proposed budget cuts have forced the college to request that all academic departments cut their adjunct budgets by 15 to 20 percent by spring 2012. Parker said some departments may try to make cuts in their adjunct budgets for fall '11.
Bacheler said the school of The Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences took a 10 percent adjunct budget cut in fall '10, and will have the same budget in fall '11.
Parker said the history department must cut 90 percent of its adjunct budget by spring '12.
"The history department is taking the biggest hit in terms of the amount of temporary services (adjunct) budget cuts," Parker said.
These cuts will force the history department to reduce its number of adjunct professors from about 13 to only three, Parker said. As a result, the history department will only offer about 19 sections of lower level general education courses, while in the past the department offered about 30 to 35 sections of these courses.
"The college is very dependent on adjuncts," Bacheler said. "They allow us to offer the full breadth of courses that we want to offer.
"But we are being cut by the state, and we can't continue to offer the number of courses we've offered in the past."
Due to the possible adjunct budget cuts, the college may have to increase class sizes so that the college won't have to hire as many adjuncts to teach the course, Bacheler said.
Some courses may be dropped if they fall significantly short of their total enrollment, Bacheler said.
Exceptions to this policy may be made for courses that are best taught to small classes, such as arts, nursing and performance-based courses, Bacheler said.
In addition to the adjunct budget cuts, other departments at the college are planning to make cuts and sacrifices to save money. Parker said the college is trying to make budgetary efficiencies across campus.
Though the college is actively seeking ways to cut the budget in the most efficient ways possible, some fear these cuts may still hurt the core of Brockport academics.
"It is my personal opinion that despite these cuts - as painful as they are - we are still offering a great curriculum," Bacheler said, "and I'm not speaking just for The Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, [I'm speaking] in general across the board.
"But my concern is that we're cutting into bone, and I don't know how much further we can cut without really affecting the quality of the programs we're offering.