By Jeff Sklar
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday January 15, 2003
Sixteen programs spanning academic disciplines from landscape architecture to environmental hydrology may face elimination under preliminary proposals released yesterday by top administrators.
Yesterday's announcement marked the first time President Pete Likins and Provost George Davis have made specific recommendations for program cuts under Focused Excellence, a plan to narrow the university's mission in response to continued shortages in state funding.
The proposed cuts would not impact students already enrolled in the programs, but could mean prospective applicants would not be allowed to enter them, Likins said.
In an e-mail sent to UA students yesterday afternoon, Likins and Davis stressed that the university intends to work individually with each student who could be affected by the changes to ensure that they are allowed to finish.
Programs proposed for elimination
· Extended university
· Humanities program
· School of Landscape Architecture
· School of Planning
· School of Information Resources and Library Sciences
· School of Health Professions and Medical Technology Program
· Department of Atmospheric Sciences
· Flandrau Science Center
· Comparative Cultural and Literary Studies Program (IDP)
· Undergraduate degree program in environmental hydrology and water resources
· Doctoral program in French
· Masters' program in Russian
· Institute for Local Government Nuclear Reactor Laboratory
· Arizona Cooperative Extension Office in Greenlee County
· Marana agricultural center
"It's not as if everything is going to disappear at one time," said Jerrold Hogle, who chairs the Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee.
Tenured faculty in affected departments would likely be appointed to other areas of the university, but some lower-level faculty and staff may lose their jobs, Likins said. Administrators will evaluate their situations on a case-by-case basis.
"The process has been, and will continue to be, daunting," Likins said.
Under recent budget cuts, the most vulnerable employees have been lower-level staff members like secretaries, whose jobs do not directly affect teaching. But because Focused Excellence involves eliminating entire departments, higher-level jobs will also be vulnerable.
"It will have an impact on the lives of faculty and administrators," Likins said.
Still, Lisa Wakefield, president of the Staff Advisory Council, which represents the university's lower-level employees, warns some staff members will lose their jobs as well. However, job cuts would be unavoidable even without Focused Excellence due to continued budget cuts from the state, she said.
The process has been, and will continue to be, daunting.
- Pete Likins
"If the president does nothing, we're still going to have staff laid off," Wakefield said.
The list of 16 programs has been whittled down from 134 options that Likins and Davis considered for elimination, merger or reorganization.
Late last semester Likins, Davis and several other top administrators met individually with each dean to identify those areas. Over winter break they determined which could be reasonably eliminated.
They made those decisions based primarily on six criteria recommended by Hogle's committee, a key advisory board to the university's top administrators.
Those criteria were: educational excellence, research and creative excellence, student demand, vital public impact, revenue generation and interdisciplinary need.
In discussing programs they proposed eliminating, Likins and Davis repeatedly pointed to those criteria, which they referred to in a document released yesterday as a "touchstone for evaluating mission centrality and quality."
Hogle said that a program's placement on the list did not mean that administrators were unhappy with its performance, rather it meant that it has not met the specific SPBAC criteria.
"Neither (Likins or Davis) is saying Īthis finally gives me the chance to get rid of that awful thing,'" Hogle said.
Administrators also evaluated whether the programs are offered at other universities in-state. When Dr. Ray Woosley, the vice president for health sciences, recommended that the medical technology program be eliminated, he did so partly because a very similar program is offered at ASU.
"Medical technology is a very important program and in a perfect world we wouldn't think about eliminating it," Woosley said. But compared with other health sciences programs, like nursing or public health, Woosley said medical technology was most easily eliminated.
"If I have to pick between nursing, which is a crisis for the state and medicine and medical technology, I have to say there's another program at ASU," he said.
By the end of January, Likins and Davis will have announced plans to merge or restructure many of the other 118 areas, and during the semester, a variety of committees will weigh in with their own ideas. Likins and Davis hope to present final plans to the Arizona Board of Regents by June.
Of the university's colleges, one of the hardest hit was the College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture. The School of Landscape Architecture and the School of Planning, both a part of the college, will likely have to fight to stay intact. If the schools are cut, it will destroy the college's mission to become an interdisciplinary force, said Barbara Becker, director of the School of Planning.
Even if it is eliminated, though, Becker hopes her faculty will be able to find a home elsewhere in the university. She says her discipline could easily fit in several other university departments, and was once housed in the department of geography and regional planning, and before that in the College of Business and Public Administration.
Still, the mood in the School of Planning has been somber since Becker heard the news a few days ago, and her three non-tenured faculty are concerned they may not have jobs if the school is eliminated.
"The university is going to reach down and yank out two units of the interdisciplinary whole," Becker said.
Though some programs may no longer exist, their duties would be picked up by other areas of the university. Extended university, which offers distance-learning courses and administers other outreach programs, would see its responsibilities taken over by colleges, said Randy Richardson, vice president for undergraduate education.
Graduate and professional programs will face the most scrutiny as final decisions are made for eliminations. Of the 16 programs that may face elimination, six include graduate degrees. Only three offer undergraduate degrees, and the remainder perform various research, service or extension tasks.
The university has set up an e-mail address for people to comment on the proposals. Messages sent to firstname.lastname@example.org will be directed to administrators and committees that will make recommendations to Likins and Davis.
Keren G. Raz contributed to this report.