Faculty reacts to proposals to cur staff, programs at UM

Posted at 9:04 AM, Apr 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-18 11:04:32-04

MISSOULA – University of Montana President Seth Bodnar is encouraging UM faculty, staff and students to dive into the details of recommendations to save $10 million off future university budgets and to make suggestions.

Bodnar says the preliminary recommended cuts unveiled Tuesday are the beginning of a “discussion” to resolve spending problems, He detailed the proposal during a meeting with the Faculty Senate on Tuesday afternoon.

Here’s a breakdown of the top five departments impacted by the proposed UM cuts:

  • The College of Humanities would lose 16½ Full-Time-Equivalent (FTE) positions The proposal would discontinue majors in French, German, Spanish, Russian, Classics and Area studies by consolidating into two major areas — Asian Studies and European Studies.
  • The college of Sciences would lose 8 FTE positions and would create a Division of Physical Sciences and a Division of Mathematical Sciences, Economical and Computational Sciences.
  • The College of Visual and Performing Arts would lose 6 FTE positions and combine the School of Art" and "Media Arts."
  • The Interdisciplinary program would also lose 6 FTE positions. The proposal would discontinue the Global Humanities and Religions program.
  • The Social Sciences program would stand to lose 4 FTE positions and create a Division of Social Sciences that includes Anthropology, Sociology and Linguistics — as well as integrate the School of Journalism with Communications Studies.

The auditorium was packed with people that were both curious and concerned about the proposed cuts. Following the presentation, many in the audience took the opportunity to ask open mic questions of Bodnar and other administrative staff.

Faculty and staff in the audience facing reorganization and consolidation of many of their departments spoke up for the importance of their programs. Some wanted to know how the process of determining the final outcomes would include meaningful feedback.

Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures is facing some of the steepest cuts in the draft, up for losing 7½ FTE positions even though the department chair said they are an important part of the university’s core.

“It seems to me that we are being totally targeted, I mean there are more FTE cuts and more programs cuts, and more program restructuring….this feels like we are absolutely being discounted," said Elizabeth Ametsbichler.

Dozens of other positions at UM could be eliminated through attrition or departure in coming years.

“I mean the union is never eager to see cuts to the faculty. The faculty at the University of Montana are an outstanding collection of scholars and teachers and it’s with great sadness that we see that plan," said UM Faculty Association Union vice president Megan Stark.

"But the role of the union is really to ensure that all parties to the contract abide by the requirements and the procedures, so that’s really where we’ve been trying to maintain our focus," Stark added.

She also said she wants the students to know that the faculty and campus continue to be deeply committed to ensuring they get the best education possible.

 The proposed budget and curriculum changes must also meet the approval of the University Board of Regents, which will be meeting in Havre later next month.

UM officials are stressing that development of this preliminary plan will continue in the coming weeks and months. There will be three more presentations where Bodnar will share his preliminary recommendations.

School officials stress that development of this preliminary plan will continue in the coming weeks and months.  UM will be holding a series of presentations and listening sessions to discuss the proposals in the coming days. Comment is also being accepted online.

  • April 17, 3:00 PM, in the Music Hall Recital: President Bodnar will present the preliminary recommendations for UM’s future at a special session of Faculty Senate. 
  • April 20, 4:00 PM, in SS 352: President Bodnar and members of the UPC will host a campus forum for all employees to provide an overview of the preliminary recommendations. 
  • April 24 & 26, 3:00 PM, in SS 352: Faculty Senate will host listening sessions open to all faculty and staff.