The University of La Verne is the best keep secret. This is a familiar phrase we hear fairly often from faculty and staff across campus, but unfortunately secrets are not always good. The University’s budget is driven by tuition. When enrollment is low, revenue decreases and budget cuts come into play.
For the next fiscal year, $2.9 million will be cut from the ULV budget to make up for the deficit in revenue based on a recent decrease in enrollment. This cut will be split among different divisions, one of them being academics.
Certain vacancies will be frozen, adjunct faculty may not be rehired and there is a possibility of classes being eliminated.
It is a certainty that the First Year Experience classes will be switched from being mandatory to optional. Many students may not love those classes, but they have proven to be valuable in helping students make the transition between high school and college. This cut will also affect the Landis Leadership Scholars program because the scholars – who have been student teachers for those classes – won’t have classes to teach.
Also, deans are preparing to eliminate sections of courses, or offer certain classes less frequently, to decrease the number of adjunct faculty members teaching. It is already hard enough to graduate on time with all of the classes needed to graduate, so it will be even harder if students have to wait to take classes. If fewer options are offered, either the classes fill up faster, leaving some students behind, or class sizes will be larger. The small class size with individualized attention has traditionally been one of the hallmarks of a ULV education.
Despite budget constraints, faculty members will get a modest raise of 2.5 percent, still below the 4.1 percent cost of living increase projected for the upcoming year. Putting such a financial strain on faculty also could affect programs by diminishing these instructors’ morale.
The University wants to do what it can to ensure students, faculty and staff are not affected by budget cuts, but in reality we’ll all feel their effects.
With a smaller pool of applicants – based on population – and competition for students from other schools, tuition revenues could be decreasing for a while. The University needs to find a better alternative to give everyone what they need, while keeping its academic programs strong.