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Russian, higher ed programs are axed
By Elizabeth Omara-Ottunu (February 28, 1997)
While Gov. John G. Rowland's proposed budget raises the prospect of further reductions in the University's academic offerings, two programs have already fallen victim to a budget shortfall resulting from previous cuts. Russian and a master's degree program in higher education administration with an emphasis in student affairs will no longer be offered.
"Once you get budget cuts, some people delude themselves that this won't have an effect on the number and quality of offerings," said Ross MacKinnon, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "In some cases we can't offer the range we did in the past; in other cases we have to eliminate a program. It's not anything anyone really likes to do."
Both programs being discontinued are small ones that have lost all their full-time faculty, mostly to retirement.
"Small programs in times like these are very vulnerable," MacKinnon said. "One or two faculty can make a huge difference between whether the programs are viable or not."
Departments across the University have been hard hit by a wave of retirements being phased in over two years. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is expected to lose 50 of 450 faculty members to retirement by the end of this year, and the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, which includes the Russian program, has eight positions vacant.
With limited resources available to refill positions, Mark Emmert, chancellor and provost for University affairs, has encouraged deans and department heads to make "strategic choices" in filling vacancies. In the cases of Russian and higher education administration, that has meant a decision not to hire the two or three faculty members it would take to continue to offer each program.
"I have had letters and electronic mail from across campus and Connecticut and around the world about how valuable Russian is, but I can't afford to do anything about it," MacKinnon said. Although the decision to discontinue the Russian program was a tough one, it was made easier because it did not involve terminating anyone's appointment, he said. In addition, in keeping with national trends, the demand for Russian has declined since the end of the Cold War.
In January, the Department of Educational Leadership also voted to suspend admissions to the doctoral program in higher education administration and to begin procedures for formal closing.
"To have a doctoral program you have to have a cadre of full-time faculty. There is no reasonable hope in the future, given the budget cuts, that I would be given three faculty positions" for higher education administration, said Patrick Mullarney, the department head. Three full-time faculty is the minimum required for an education program to receive national accreditation, he added.
The decision to discontinue the programs affects 22 students in the master's program with an emphasis in student affairs and 30 in the doctoral program. The required courses for the master's program will be taught by adjunct faculty and all the students will be able to complete the program, Mullarney said. Students in the doctoral program have been reassigned to other faculty advisors.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences also will make arrangements to enable the half-dozen students in the Russian program to complete their degrees, including hiring adjunct faculty to teach the courses, according to MacKinnon.
The end of these two programs may be just the beginning. If there are additional budget cuts, other programs will have to be dropped, MacKinnon said.