College, departments bandage up cuts

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Despite budget cuts to departments and colleges across campus, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Political Science and Art departments have pursued new ways of making money and teaching students as their operating expense budget faced sizeable cuts.

Stella Theodoulou, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and David Moon, chair of the Art Department, said they were given prior notification about the cuts and planned on how to budget their funds accordingly.

“We have had open meetings (for faculty and staff) where the budget and the cuts have been discussed,” Theodoulou said.

She said her college’s faculty members have been cooperative and understanding of the situation the university is now in.

“Our main purpose is to deliver an excellent program to our students, and we continue to do so,” Theodoulou said.

Moon said his department also made preparations for the cuts.

“We knew about it, so we made some adjustments and (are) doing the best we can,” said Moon of the Art Department.

Moon said when he first became chair of the department five years ago, the department’s budget for operating expenses was $125,000.

Just last year, the operating expenses budget was $80,000. For the 2005-06 school year, it is down to $48,000.

Despite losing approximately $32,000 since the 2004-05 academic year, Moon remains positive and keeps his head high.

“We shifted some of (the) funding, and that doesn’t mean we’re not feeling the pinch,” Moon said. “It’s not like it’s the end of the world.”

According to Theodoulou, the college took around a $500,000 cut from operating expenses since last year. The college was working with about a $13.5-million dollar budget in the 2004-05 school year, but was reduced to about $13 million for this year.

“Classes are not under-enrolled,” Theodoulou said. “We make sure classes are not under enrolled.”

“We’re being asked to do more with less, but everybody has a good attitude,” she said. “We still (have) the same number of students and we have less funds. No budget cut is going to be an easy situation, but we are performing to the best of our ability.”

If a class has students registered in it, a faculty member must be used to teach the course, Theodoulou said.

She said the college does not over-enroll any courses.

Theodoulou said expenses in all departments in the college have been cut by 10 percent, and that other cuts have been made to travel allowances and the postponement of certain equipment.

The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences has the largest full-time equivalent students on campus, with roughly 4,700-4,800 FTES this year, according to CSUN’s Institutional Research website.

Theodoulou said she feels that education needs to be acknowledged as an important institution by the California Legislature.

“I think the state Legislature has to start realizing that the education level is a priority if we want the state to be competitive with other states in the market place,” Theodoulou said. “If we don’t educate our population, we won’t be able to compete economically and socially with other states.”

Matthew Cahn, chair of the Political Science Department within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said his department has not been affected in a harmful way because most of the cuts were absorbed at the university level.

“At the college level, (Theodoulou) was able to cut back on non-essentials,” Cahn said. “That allowed her to roll over some money and create a cushion. This year, we have seen a small reduction in operating expenses.”

Lucille Castillo, administrative support assistant in the Political Science Department, said the department has been affected on a small scale by budget cuts because of two programs sponsored by the department.

The Master of Public Administration and the Public Sector Management programs, both from the Roland Tseng College of Extended Learning, provide the Political Science Department with funding because the department has faculty teach some of the courses.

Castillo said that even though budget cuts have not affected the department harshly, she said cutting money from education is not the thing to do.

“I would prefer money (be) taken from somewhere else. However, I wouldn’t necessarily know what other area,” Castillo said.

“Think of it as an academic equivalent to a bake sale,” Cahn said referencing the department’s relationship to the programs and the funding that is generated from them.

The programs were developed from the interest of political science faculty and other faculty across the campus, Cahn said. The MPA program has existed for about 30 years, and the PSM program is in its third year.

Cahn said the programs are revenue positive and they help compensate for expenses that are not covered by state funding.

“That’s not to say budget cuts are not real and not harming every day,” he said. “We have been lucky with good management in the (Administration and Finance) office and the dean’s office.”

Cahn questions future budget cuts and said he believes that if there is another cut next year, the Political Science Department may begin to see more concrete changes.

Cahn said operating expenses, such as making copies, making phone calls and reimbursing faculty on business trips, are not a problem for the department.

One of the issues Political Science and Art share is retired faculty members and how they are not being replaced one-to-one.

“(Faculty) that have retired have not been replaced one-to-one,” Cahn said. “We’re not hiring people to immediately replace those that have retired.”

He said hires have been made, but only for part-time positions.

Faculty can only be hired it if it consistent with the current budget, Cahn said.

According to Cahn, each college on campus has been asked to increase their “full-time equivalent student,” or enrollment, target to meet the demand of student population increase.

“We have been increasing our target by 5 percent each year for the last couple of years,” Cahn said. “We certainly want to accommodate student demand.”

Most of the classes in the department are currently full, but five years ago most courses did not meet the required capacity of students per classroom, Cahn said.

The Art Department increased its enrollment and has been able to purchase equipment during the university’s budget cut process.

Moon said that the way to deal with the situation is to anticipate it and to shift and reallocate funding.

“As a chair, you kinda have to anticipate all this stuff,” he said.

“The reality is this is what we’re getting,” Moon said. “It’s my job as chair and manager to say, ‘This is our resource. What do I need for my family? What do I need to get by?'”

Live models were formerly used in figure drawing courses to teach students how to draw the human form. They have been removed from the courses because of the budget cuts, Moon said.

“That was 30 to 40 percent of our operating (expenses) budget,” he said. “That was a significant cut in the budget.”

Moon met with a student from a drawing course and they discussed how they could create funding for the drawing courses.

The student suggested creating an endowment for the course to raise money for live models and equipment.

“There’s hope now for next semester,” Moon said.

Some might think that the integrity of the course would now have been diminished, but Moon said he is trying a different approach.

“We have been beginning to use technology to replace the models,” he said. “I try to work with faculty members and explain it to them.”

“I could always blame someone, but what good is that?” Moon said.

About 40 faculty members teach in the Art Department. Many professors have retired.

Part-time faculty have since then been hired to replace the
retried professors.

Something new in the Art Department is the utilizating of graduate student teachers.

“To be honest with you, it’s great for students so that they can teach and it looks good on their resume,” Moon said. “It’s cheaper than paying full-time faculty.”

Students submit applications, and if they are accepted, they teach undergraduate classes under the supervision of a senior full-time faculty member.

“The program has been very successful,” Moon said. “Students are making a couple of dollars to offset tuition. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Cynthia Ramos can be reached at cmr70871@csun.edu.