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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Shelton says budget still needs cuts

    Despite the resignation of the physics department head who criticized a recent wave of budget cuts, President Robert Shelton said more cuts could be on the horizon.

    Shelton said he is sorry to see Pierre Meystre leave his position as head of the physics department, but he remains firm in his drive to get university finances in balance.

    “”We have to get our expenses in line with our income,”” Shelton said.

    Shelton said he expects to cut $5 million from the 2009 fiscal year budget, but he hopes to be able to pare down that number by lobbying for more funds from the state and increasing enrollment.

    Shelton’s budget cuts are his contribution to a four-year budget-stabilization plan introduced by former president Peter Likins, set to expire in 2009.

    “”We are taking these steps to get the budget in order once and for all,”” Shelton said.

    Mark Smith, chemistry department head, said he understands the need to balance the university budget, but he’s not sure differential cuts to almost all units in the university are the best way to go about it.

    “”This has to stop at some point,”” Smith said.

    While he said he sympathizes with Meystre’s decision to resign, Smith said he thinks the resignation of a head professor during a financially difficult time “”throws departments into a level of chaos.””

    Smith said he has no plans to resign.

    UA budget director Dick Roberts said the $10 million cut to the university’s overall budget that Shelton announced this spring was handled in consultation with the different college deans.

    Provost George Davis worked with the deans to decide how much each individual college would need to shave off of its yearly operating budget. The deans were then responsible for doling out the cuts to their departments.

    “”This process was very similar to other processes in the past,”” Roberts said.

    Smith said the chemistry department faces a funding cut of $120,000, or 2 percent.

    “”I’m ensuring they (students) won’t even notice it,”” Smith said. Instead of slashing budgets to classroom instruction, he said he will be scaling back chemistry research projects.

    Most department heads look first to research when it comes time to cut funds, Smith said. In the end, he said compromised research programs will hurt the UA’s ability to recruit faculty and graduate students. Already, Smith said a loss of funds has pushed the UA chemistry department down in national rankings.

    According to U.S. News and World Report rankings, the UA chemistry department has dropped from No. 4 to No. 7 in the nation in the past three years.

    Echoing statements last week from the ecology and evolutionary biology department head Richard Michod, Smith said many in the College of Science had hoped Shelton would eliminate underperforming programs in favor of giving more money to those in more desperate situations.

    Roberts said those sorts of discussions have happened in the past, with programs like landscape architecture and atmospheric sciences, but both programs survived because faculty in other departments did not defend the administration’s plans to cut the underperformers.

    Shelton said it is part of colleges’ and departments’ job to look for those areas that could be reduced in size or done away with.

    “”Even if we had no cut at all, it doesn’t relieve us of that kind of review,”” Shelton said.

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