By Amanda Hunt
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The physical education program's campaign to avoid elimination got a boost Tuesday when a Faculty Senate special committee submitted a report to the president recommending the program be kept open.
No one was willing to discuss the specifics of the recommendation Tuesday until University of Arizona President Manuel T. Pacheco officially released the report.
Yesterday afternoon, Pacheco said he had read the report but had not come to any conclusions about it. He said although the report is not in accordance with his recommendation to cut the program, it is only one part of the process.
In February, Pacheco seconded Provost Paul Sypherd's recommendation to eliminate the physical education program by 1998. Both supported the statement that the program is "not sufficiently central to the university's mission to justify devoting substantial resources to its support." The journalism and statistics departments were included in the proposed cuts.
"We have very difficult budget constraints; those have not gone away," Pacheco said. If the necessary funds are not gained through program closures and reorganization, selective cuts or across-the-board cuts may have to be implemented to satisfy the monetary need, he said.
The Faculty Senate Special Committee on the Reorganization of Exercise and Sport Sciences heard from more than 200 people through interviews and forums and examined the recommendations from the administration and the Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee to gather information for the findings in the 30-page report.
"(The committee) did a very thorough job ... we meticulously referenced all of our material," said Claire Parsons, chair of the committee. She said the committee devised an equitable solution "to preserve the program based on (the program's) own capability and on the needs of the state."
Some of the findings in the report include:
¨ Program reviews used by administrators to guide their decisions were incomplete, and at times contained inaccurate data.
¨ Procedural errors were committed by the university administration, in that a dismantling of the physical education program began before all Arizona Board of Regents mandated reviews had been completed.
¨ Closure of the physical education program will have a significant negative impact on Southern Arizona communities as indicated by administrators from every major Tucson-area school district (TUSD, Catalina Foothills, Marana, Flowing Wells, Amphitheater and Sunnyside).
¨ The instructional physical activity program offered by the physical education program makes a significant contribution to the health and well-being of the university community.
¨ The other three universities (Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and Grand
Canyon University) cannot meet the additional demands in teacher preparation for physical education that will be placed on them should the UA physical education program be closed.
¨ The mission of the College of Education and the mission of the physical education program are, for all practical purposes, identical and are congruent with the overall university mission.
¨The cost-benefit ratio argues in favor of retaining the physical education program. The benefits provided by the physical education programs to the university community and to the Tucson community far exceed the minimal savings (i.e. $588,000) that would accrue to the university. The resulting financial burden to the Tucson community has been estimated to be in excess of $1 million.
Pacheco said he does not know what action he will make or when he will make it. He will review reports from the journalism and statistics committees in late April.
The report will be discussed and voted for approval at the UA Faculty Senate meeting on Monday, Parsons said. The regents will make the final decision about department cuts following the president's recommendations, probably at a June meeting in Yuma.
Judy Sorensen, advisor for the program, said she is "extremely delighted" about the report. She said the results were not surprising because she thinks the program speaks for itself, as it has passed numerous reviews in the past.
Sorensen said the fight to keep the program will continue because it is "not a done deal" without the support of the president and the state.
Kathryn Russell, physical education associate professor, agreed that the fight is not over. She said others in the program have spent a year "on a roller coaster" dealing with the ups and downs of the proposal.
"Personally, I don't want to continue to ride up and down on that roller coaster ... I don't know how to respond," Russell said.
Kendra McQueen, physical education senior, said she was surprised by the results of the report. She said she is more hopeful about the future of the program because usually when a recommendation is suggested, "the decision has already been made."
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