The book may be closing on CSU-Pueblo’s English graduate program, though it depends on how its next chapter is written.
The head of the English department, Professor Cindy Taylor, said the department is no longer accepting new students into its master’s program. “It’s kind of been on hiatus,” she said, explaining that since the university’s financial shake-up that began in 2013, and the resulting loss of two lines of faculty, the department felt that it could no longer offer a high quality graduate experience.
Students already enrolled in the program as of the spring 2015 semester have continued on track like they would normally expect to be. However, if the department does not receive more funding and staff before the last of these students graduate, CSU-Pueblo might expect to lose the program indefinitely.
Professor Scott Gage, director of the English grad program, explained that the department collectively felt that accepting new applicants while not being able to offer a “rich and robust” program would be unethical.
Gage said that a standard and integral part of graduate programs across the nation is teaching assistant positions, which the institution is presently unable to finance. This effectively requires students to pay to work for the university. “It’s rare to have grad students paying completely out of pocket,” Gage said.
Gage said these changes are indicative of problems across the board. “Really, the story isn’t just about English. It’s about graduate programs at CSU-Pueblo.” He pointed to the closing of CSU-Pueblo’s history grad program as evidence and said other departments may also be facing similar decisions.
One reason for these troubles, Gage said, was that the university’s close affiliation with CSU-Fort Collins has deteriorated in recent years, resulting in a severely decreased access to resources. This and other financial troubles at the Pueblo campus necessitated what Gage called more strategic spending decisions. “It’s no fault of anyone, just the reality,” he said.
Gage said that greater enrollment numbers would help the school financially, but would not be a solution in and of itself.
“Depending on enrollment puts the burden on the backs of the students,” he said, highlighting the need for greater state funding.
Colorado currently ranks 49th in the U.S. for public funding of higher education. When CSU-Pueblo’s budget crisis came to a head in 2013, the state ranked last.
At present, eight students are enrolled in CSU-Pueblo’s English grad program, two of which are returning students who were readmitted for this fall despite the new policies.