Liberal arts hit hard

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Sep 082003
 
Authors: Stephanie Lindberg

Editor’s note: This story is the first in a weekly series examining how university budget cuts have affected each of the university’s eight colleges. Next Tuesday will look at the College of Business.

The College of Liberal Arts slashed more than $1.6 million of its base budget, just less than a 10 percent cut from last year’s budget.

Dean Heather Hardy, who took the position in June of this year, said while she did not make the budget for this year, the college is beginning to think about next year.

“Already we’re starting to deal with the ’05 budget. It’s had a particularly hard hit on this college,” Hardy said. “Nothing ever stays the same. People leave, people die.”

Chris Nichols, a senior history major, said he has noticed more students in his classes because of budget cuts.

“There aren’t fewer sections, but they are a little more crowded,” Nichols said.

Senior capstone seminars are required for history majors to graduate and because of overcrowding Nichols was not able to get in one of these classes last semester.

“It’s my second final semester just to do capstone,” Nichols said.

Political science graduate student Joe Baker said a lack of faculty is another cause of budget constraints.

“It increases the student-to-teacher ratio,” Baker said. “It makes (the faculty) less accessible.”

Cori Oleson, a senior lecturer in art history, said one thing she noticed because of budget cuts was the loss of funding for paper.

“The biggest (cut), and it sounds trivial, but making exams for students and handouts,” Oleson said. “We’re being asked to give exams on overheads and using power point technology. They don’t get their own copy.”

That means only a few questions can be shown at one time and it forces students to all go at the same pace, Oleson said.

In her ten years at CSU, Oleson said she has seen some changes, but more in the past year.

“I have seen gradual changes, but they are more radical this year,” Oleson said. “It’s scary because a lot of the short cuts we’re taking because of budget will become long-term hardships.”

Hardy followed the budget cuts the year before she came to CSU. She said the biggest problem is coping with the increase in enrollment while the funding is decreased.

“If you’ve got that much demand and your resources have been cut from under you it’s hard,” Hardy said.

Because of budget cuts, computer upgrades have been delayed and funds for the faculty to attend conferences have been pretty much eliminated, Hardy said.

“We’ve trimmed the budget down to where there is no discretionary funds,” Hardy said. “We’ve done all the cuts we can do without affecting the students.”

Hardy is optimistic that the economy will improve soon, but she thinks there are more cuts coming in the near future.

“Everybody’s hoping that the economy is turning around,” Hardy said. “I think it will be several years before things get better.”

Hardy said she and the rest of college are ready for the challenge.

“This is really challenging but if we all work together as a team we can think of creative ways to weather this budget crisis,” Hardy said. “I’m confident that we’ll weather it just fine.”

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