Panel recommends controversial cost cutters
Posted March 3, 2006

Laura Bucio
Assistant Editor

Assessment and possible elimination of some of the school’s smaller majors, and guaranteed admission for legacy students are among the more than 15 recommendations made recently by a University committee charged with “finding” $8 million in the school's nearly maxed-out budget.

The 15 recommendations were among 34 in all submitted to University President Stephen Morgan by the “Action Task Force,” a panel of faculty and administrators pulled together last year to come up with budget-cutting plans.

These two recommendations are among the ones to raise eyebrows among faculty and some administrators, for their content and wording.

“It is clear that the president is very much in favor of the recommendations,” Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Al Clark said. “They are awfully open ended statements.”

Confusion over just what the recommendations, if approved, would mean was evident at a series of open forums and faculty meetings between Feb. 17 and March 1 where the president presented them, and questioning was sometimes contentious.

Last fall, the Task Force submitted 16 recommendations, 15 of those — including limiting the size of majors and shrinking the general education course requirement — have been approved to date.

Recommendation No. 23, which calls for a group to be assigned to assess size and quality and financial viability of the current majors, seems to put some of the smaller majors in the College of Arts and Sciences at risk of elimination.

“We have to look at the cost benefit and the academic benefit of the majors that graduate few students,” said Adeline Cardenas-Clague, dean of academic support and retention services, and chairwoman of the Task Force.

Some, however, believe a program’s relative cost should not be used to determine its value.

“We have to be very careful to protect majors that are critical to the essence of a liberal arts institution,” Clark said. “No matter how many graduates they have.”

In 2005, 351 graduates received bachelor’s degrees from the College of Arts and Sciences which offers 38 majors, while 651 graduated from the College of Business with only eight majors being offered.

The risk of losing some small majors in the College of Arts and Sciences is a huge concern for professors at the University.

“Our motto is knowledge, service, vision. This is putting down knowledge, it’s putting down students and this vision is called nearsighted,” said Andrea Labinger, professor of Spanish. “Our students deserve better than that.”

Students are equally concerned.

“I came to ULV because it is a liberal arts college,” said Ivy Martinez, senior spanish major, “if ULV eliminates majors, it will loose many prospective students.”

?Recommendation No. 21, “Alternative Admissions Options,” or automatic admission of legacy students, has also been met with criticism.

The recommendation states that children of alumni, trustees, ULV faculty and staff should be given special considerations and essentially be admitted into the University regardless of their qualifications.

“The children of people that have had affiliation deserve special consideration” Cardenas-Clague said.

But some feel such an attitude could devalue the ULV degree, or worse.

“I don’t personally believe its doing someone a favor if they are not qualified,” Clark said. “The emotional impact of putting someone somewhere they are not prepared for is dangerous.”

“This makes for an unequal playing field,” Michelle Sauceda, admissions representative, “It puts non-legacy students at a disadvantage.”

Despite disagreements many believe the work of the Task Force is necessary.

“I have confidence that the final result will be a good one” Clark said.

The newest set recommendations are currently under review and some are expected to be passed on to the board of trustees by next fall.

Editorial Director Tom Anderson contributed to this report.
Laura Bucio can be reached at lbucio@ulv.edu.

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