MOVING TO FRONT FROM YESTERDAY--SEE 2ND UPDATE, BELOW
Philosophy is the only traditional liberal arts major being singled out for elimination. The e-mail from the Dean of Liberal Arts, an English professor, follows:
March 8, 2011
Now that President Smatresk has released UNLV’s proposed list of budget cuts in academic programs, I write to discuss the proposed cuts to the College of Liberal Arts. It with great and deep sadness that I write to you about what program eliminations may occur in our College to cope with the reduced funding to NSHE provided in the Governor’s budget.
First, please recall that we were mandated to propose “vertical cuts” so as not to impact each and all of our programs. The administration instructed the deans to submit budget cutting proposals to achieve a target figure arrived at by computing an individual college’s percentage of all State funding going to UNLV’s academic side. The CLA budget cut target was $3,772,706. After careful review of all matrices, hard and soft, and after review of the various suggestions CLA faculty forwarded to the College, we arrived at a list of programs or departments to reach our budget reduction target. The sum total for such draconian measures in our initial proposal was $3,768,384, or $4,322 below our prescribed target figure. That minor difference was deemed acceptable at the time of submission.
In the narrative, however, that accompanied our spread sheets for this proposal, I emphasized just how important each of the programs or departments in our proposal is to the College’s mission, also emphasizing the horrific effects of such terminations on FTE production, still central to the funding formula, and emphasizing just how inexpensively the College of Liberal Arts produces FTE. The results, which we were notified of this morning, were that the administration will include less than half of the possible CLA cuts in our proposal on the list that will be forwarded to the Regents later this week. In sum, we are told that we are now being considered for a $1,636,628 total reduction in CLA budgets, or 43% of the initial target. That speaks to the centrality of the College of Liberal Arts to the mission of the University.
I have today already notified the affected departments and programs, Philosophy, Women’s Studies, and the Women’s Research Institute of Nevada. I’m horrified to write that such cuts, if implemented, will result in the loss of seventeen positions, which loss includes ten tenured or tenure-track lines, four vacant faculty lines, and three classified staff lines. This situation is certainly tragic, but not so devastating as cuts resulting from the initially mandated target would have been, the loss of approximately 35 positions or lines.
Two things to keep in mind as we move further down this path: 1) UNR is going through the same procedures, with its targeted programs and departments to be presented to the Regents at their meeting later this week; 2) there still exists the very real possibility that our overall strategy may be successful -- that is, these proposed cuts are so devastating, System-wide, that they may make more effective and convincing the efforts of our friends in the Legislature to modify the Governor’s proposed budget cuts for Higher Education. Especially, then, for the sake of the University as a whole, and for the sake of our colleagues in Philosophy, Women’s Studies, and WRIN, we all, I’m absolutely certain, will do everything we can to enable that amelioration of this despicable budget proposal as it currently exists.
Christopher C. Hudgins, Dean
College of Liberal Arts
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
4505 Maryland Parkway
Las Vegas, NV 89154 5001
phone: (702) 895 3401 fax: (702) 895 4097
I have no knowledge of Women's Studies programs at Nevada, and I sincerely hope that some of the faculty affected hold tenure lines in other departments as well that have been spared this viciousness. But for a state university to eliminate the entire philosophy department, including tenured and untenured faculty, can only reflect deep antipathy to the idea of a universtiy or malice against philosophy. These are real people whose lives may be destroyed by this move. As an academic at another Nevada campus wrote to me:
The demand for vertical cuts and program elimination that was handed down from on high, and the college's and university's willingness to do that instead of refusing and offering a horizontal cut (like a salary cut) in it's place is rather appalling. This action will ruin lives, and to accept the ruining of a (supposed) colleague's life rather than undergo a survivable paycut (I'm pretty sure 10% across the board would cover it--maybe less) is to be a moral monster of a rather attrocious sort, who is "just following orders". It's like throwing 2 people out of a life boat with limited supplies, rather than cutting back on everyone's intake in a survivable fashion. Disgusting.
Please write to Dean Hudgins, above, in support of philosophy as essential to any institution that purports to be a "university."
UPDATE: Here is a spread sheet on the cuts: Download Copy of UNLV Proposed Academic Cuts. As you can see, university-wide, Philosophy and the School of Social Work are the primary units being slaughtered. There can be no possible academic justification for this.
UPDATE #2: The issue is now out of the hands of UNLV officials, including the Dean, and goes to the Regents. Philip Kremer (Toronto) very helpfully compiled the contact information for the Regents:
James Dean Leavitt, Chairman
Leavitt is a lawyer: he might be sympathetic.
Jason Geddes, Ph.D., Vice Chairman
Dr. Andrea Anderson
Robert J. Blakely
William G. Cobb
Mark W. Doubrava, M.D.
He has a Bachelor of Liberal Studies, and might be sympathetic.
Kevin C. Melcher
Kevin J. Page
Dr. Jack Lund Schofield
My colleague Michael Kremer (Philip's brother, as it happens!) points out that it would be particularly useful for the Regents to hear from others, besides philosophers. Since we all presumably know folks in other departments, it might be good to call this issue to their attention, and ask them to write to at least the Chairman. Here's the e-mail I am going to send (with my law hat on), with the subject line "Philosophy at UNLV":
Dear Chairman Leavitt:
I am writing to urge you and your colleagues on the Board of Regents to find alternative ways to balance the budget at UNLV other than the elimination of the entire Philosophy Department. Philosophy is the oldest and one of the central humanities disciplines, one which has played a primary role in the intellectual, religious, and moral traditions of our civilization. It has also been an invaluable launching pad for a diverse array of careers, including our shared field, the law. Future students at UNLV deserve the opportunity to study philosophy.
I am mindful of the dire budgetary situation your state faces, but surely spreading the "pain" of cuts across many areas is preferable to the wholesale elimination of a unit central to the academic mission of the university.
Thank you for your consideration.