Final departmental cuts loom ahead

By Joseph Barrios

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Threatened UA departments are gearing up for one of the last steps before their future is decided.

The final recommendation from University of Arizona Provost Paul Sypherd is scheduled to be completed within the next three weeks. The recommendation will then go to the president's office and then to the Arizona Board of Regents for a vote.

The proposed deparment cuts are based on recomendations from the Strategic Planning Committee report released in April. The report called for the elimination or reorganization of journalism, communications, Mexican American studies, statistics and Near Eastern studies.

Over the summer, Mexican American studies, Near-Eastern studies and communications were spared the threat of elimination. But the departments still being considered are now giving final input and making arguments in their own defense.

Professional journalists and journalism faculty met Thursday with President Manuel T. Pacheco, Sypherd and Vice Provost Ken Smith in an informational meeting to discuss the future of the department, said Jim Patten, Journalism Department head .

"It would be tragic to see it die or to shrivel up," said Frank Sotomayor, an assistant metro editor at the Los Angeles Times. One proposal called for the merger of journalism with communications to form an Information Sciences department, but no plans have been made.

Sotomayor, a 1966 UA journalism graduate, said he first proposed the meeting to Pacheco at the August Arizona Board of Regents meeting.

"I wanted to establish some kind of dialogue with the central administration," Sotomayor said. "I proposed bringing in some of the best people in the journalism field."

Six professional journalists from around the country attended the meeting to discuss where journalism education is headed in the 21st century, Patten said. The meeting was meant to show administration what skills reporters will always need.

Patten said the visitors stressed that not all schools should try to "keep up" with changing technology. Patten said journalists, regardless of the technology, will have to able to gather information and analyze it.

The Nuclear Engineering Department is now waiting for a decision, said Morris Farr, department head. Sypherd met with the department about three weeks ago in an informational meeting where faculty "forcefully" argued why the department should remain open, Farr said.

Merging nuclear engineering with another department is a favorable alternative to elimination, Farr said. He said the department should remain in some capacity because despite nuclear energy's negative image, the demand for graduates is still there.

"We can see no reason to eliminate something that's works well," Farr said.

No further informational meetings for nuclear engineering are scheduled.

And the faculty of physical education is now scheduling an informational meeting with the provost, said Anne Atwater, acting head of Exercise & Sports Science.

But there are no options left for the Department of Statistics, said Yashaswini Mittal, department head.

Mittal said it was unfair that faculty was unable to give input before the original recommendation was made. Although Sypherd has met with statistics faculty once, Mittal said there has not been enough chance for the department to argue in its own favor.

But closure will spread further than the department's students. Mittal said statistics faculty instruct about 1800 undergraduate students who took statistics courses in 1993-94. Eliminating the department would eliminate the credibility and resources that other colleges use in their statistics courses, she said.

Mittal came to the UA about four years ago to revamp the department, she said. Her intention was to build the department by having 12 full-time faculty members by fall 1996. But budget cuts have made it impossible for Mittal to hire new faculty.

Now, in the wake of possible department elimination, Mittal said she is turning her concern towards students she recruited.

"I feel a sense of responsibility. I'll do my damnedest to take care of them," Mittal said.

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