Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Program Elimination at CSU Humboldt?

The CSUEU Bargaining Team will be travelling to Humboldt next week for a meet and discuss with the CSU over the large number of represented employees who were notified of involuntary timebase reductions. Meanwhile, the following story was posted on the Chancellor's Office website. If an academic program is eliminated, is it not logical to assume that those staff members who work in support of that program will, at the very least, face reassignment, if not a potential layoff?

Humboldt State University's Academic Senate on Saturday grilled the heads of departments that are on the chopping block about the value of their programs, part of a process to develop recommendations to send to the provost.

Such stalwart programs as physics, chemistry, nursing, fisheries biology and English literature were put under the microscope at Founders Hall - all possibilities to be cut to save the university some $1.3 million.

Senators are expected to come up with several packages that would meet that requirement as part of a recommendation to the provost. The Senate should vote on those recommendations Tuesday, but Provost Bob Snyder has offered no guarantee that the recommendations will be followed.

Many of the questions directed to department heads Saturday were about whether majors might be merged to realize savings, but program leaders urged strongly against that. Chemistry and physics departments chairman Robert Zoellner said that neither physics nor chemistry could assume parts of the other's program if one were eliminated.

"An undergraduate degree is not a specialty degree," Zoellner said. "It's a foundation for a specialty degree later on."

He added that a revamped physics curriculum that includes astronomy has attracted a large number of students to the university.

While those foundation majors may be struggling to save themselves, so are unique HSU programs like Rangeland Resources and Wildlands Soils, two of few such programs in the country. It, too, has revised its curriculum, said Professor Susan Edinger Marshall, and expects to see enrollment increase.
Rangeland undergraduate Stewart Wilson told the Senate that agriculture is a $100 billion-a-year industry in California. To cut the program would threaten the university's status as a natural resources school, he said.

"I think it's important to realize the obligation this university has to Northern California and to Northern California's natural resources," Wilson said.

Other resource programs are on the chopping block, including fisheries and oceanography. Oceanography is the only undergraduate program of its kind in California or adjacent states, said Professor Jeff Borgeld. Oceanography is particularly dependent on other majors like physics and chemistry, Borgeld said, because its students take many of the same physics and chemistry courses those majors take. A major change to either of those departments would have an immediate impact on oceanography, Borgeld said.

HSU's nursing program, which graduates the second-highest number of students per year as any other program being considered for elimination, is also the most expensive. The Academic Senate has estimated scrapping the program would save some $867,200 - a major chunk of the $1.3 million needed. The department argued Saturday that its bachelor's program makes nurses more valuable and more capable in the workforce than the College of the Redwoods associate degree program.

The Liberal Studies Elementary Education program graduates the most students, but would save only an estimated $117,000 if it were to be cut.

The focus on cost has brought angst to many of those employed by the programs on the chopping block. But it appears that few, if any, of those departments have had formal discussions about retraining those who may lose their jobs with the restructuring.

Asked about it Saturday by the Senate, none of the department representatives on hand said they'd investigated that possibility.



The following programs are being considered by Humboldt State University Academic Senate to be recommended for elimination. The senate is tasked with recommending a package of programs for elimination for which the total cost savings will be at least $1.3 million, with 90 percent of the savings coming from undergraduate programs and the remaining 10 percent from graduate programs.

Program - campus-wide ranking for average number of degrees awarded annually
- average number of degrees awarded annually - projected cost savings


Chemistry -37 - 10.75 - $132,310

Computer Information Systems - 38 - 10 - $135,744

Computer Science - 44 - 5 - $66,859

Fisheries Biology - 31 - 15.5 - $207,625

Liberal Studies Elementary Education - 6 - 51.75 - $116,920

Nursing - 7 - 49 - $867,200

Oceanography - 41 - 6 - $83,660

Philosophy - 34 - 13.75 - $201,517

Physics - 43 - 5.5 - $89,948

Rangeland Resource Science - 40 - 8.75 - $110,684


English Literature, MA - 19 - 4.5 - $70,250

Kinesiology, MA - 17.5 - 4.75 - $68,644

Theatre Arts, MA (Film Production) - 30 - .25 - Not applicable *

Theatre Arts, MFA (Scenography) - Not applicable **

Theatre Arts, MA (Theatre Production) Not applicable **

* Cost savings projections are only available for the Theatre Arts graduate program as a whole, and are projected at $165,722

** Indicates new programs for which no data is available

Source: Academic Senate cost savings data spreadsheets

Source: Chancellors Office Blog

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

CSU ought to be thinking about what programs are likely to provide students jobs and make our country more competitive internationally. That means we have to place greater emphasis on Engineering and Science programs.

China is currently graduating three times as many engineering students as the US, that translates into patents. Given our limited resources, we need to focus on that.