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Budget issues won’t hinder anthropology majors

by Richard Veilleux - March 27, 2006

The dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on Thursday said a decision that requires the anthropology department to operate within its budget will not cause anthropology majors to fall short of course requirements needed for graduation.

“The anthropology department has overspent the budget that was assigned to it,” Dean Ross D. MacKinnon said in an e-mail sent to the college’s department heads and approximately 90 undergraduate anthropology majors.

“We are working to bring that overspending under control. I am confident that we can do this and still provide the classes needed by our undergraduate anthropology students.”

An anthropology graduate student caused a stir early last week when he sent an e-mail to a number of students claiming the department’s budget had been cut significantly, claiming the cut would result in the loss of a number of teaching assistant positions and courses offered by the department, which would delay graduation for both undergraduate and graduate students.

MacKinnon said many of the concerns were based on inaccurate information. The department’s budget has not been cut and, in fact, has been increased by 3 percent compared to last year.

MacKinnon has directed Professor W. Penn Handwerker, head of the department, to control his department’s spending, so that it would not go over budget in the future.

Any courses or sections that Handwerker wanted to add, MacKinnon said, would have to be cleared through the dean’s office beforehand.

This procedure is a standing practice within the college, but one by which the department has not abided, leading to significant deficits.

MacKinnon said he has been discussing the situation with the department chair for several months.

“Course availability will be somewhat reduced next year, as the department operates within its budget,” MacKinnon said.

“The anthropology department has a distinguished faculty and a strong graduate program, and it serves nearly 5,000 undergraduates each year through introductory and upper division courses,” he said.

“The dean’s office is working closely with the department to determine how it can best use its resources to meet the needs of our students.”

MacKinnon added that the anthropology department was being treated no differently than any of the other 22 CLAS departments.

Each department is allotted a budget, he said, and is expected to offer courses and hire teaching assistants consistent with that budget.

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