Several staff and faculty members at Colorado State University-Pueblo gathered on Dec. 17 to protest against looming budget cuts that would eliminate close to 50 jobs.
A main concern from many of the staff and faculty was that they have had little to no say in the decisions concerning the budget. In a span of three days, deans were expected to evaluate their colleges and submit recommendations to the president on which positions to cut.
In a statement released by the CSU-Pueblo American Association of University Professors chapter, professors said there was “minimal faculty input” and not enough time to examine other possibilities of balancing the budget.
The college deans, however, say they have done everything possible to communicate with faculty considering the short notice that they themselves were given.
The college deans first learned of the $3.3 million deficit and required cuts on Dec. 11 at the University Leadership Team meeting. At this meeting, recommendations for potential reduction in staffing were requested from all units across campus.
After learning of the budget cuts, Roy Sonnema, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said he met with department chairs and administrative assistants later the same day to explain about the deficit and possible elimination of positions.
“I later heard reports that some chairs had a difficult time reaching all their department faculty because it was exam week. I am guessing faculty members have heard the news at different times depending on their individual circumstances,” Sonnema said.
Carol Loats, professor of history and CSU-Pueblo AAUP chapter president, confirmed that Sonnema met with department chairs, but it was very last minute and would not have happened if people hadn’t been around. Because final exams were underway, Loats said the meeting happened by chance.
She added there hasn’t been any communication from Sonnema since the president’s announcement.
Bruce Raymond, dean of the Hasan School of Business, held a meeting two days after learning of the budget cuts. The entire HSB faculty was invited to the meeting to provide input on the required budget reduction, but only about one third of the faculty showed up at the meeting.
Raymond then forwarded the consensus from that meeting on to the university provost and the president on Dec. 16.
Rick Kreminski, dean of the College of Science and Math, said he also met with the department chairs, and expected them to communicate with the faculty.
“There were some things that were public knowledge that we could share, but any cuts have to be discussed with the chairs in private,” Kreminski said. “We can’t just talk about cutting a specific position on a small campus like this. Everyone would know who was being talked about.”
Kreminski also said that the deans are trying their hardest to minimize the impact of cuts on students and staff.
“We exist here to educate students. Nothing critical to academics will be cut, though it is possible that class size might increase,” Kreminski said.
Kreminski is also looking at cutting those whom it would impact the least, such as visiting professors, many of whom have no expectations of staying another year anyway.
No final decisions on cuts have been made yet.
“How certain positions will be cut I cannot say, that is a decision the president will make. My hope is that those reductions will be minimal, especially in the area of faculty. But with the university facing a $3.3 million deficit for FY 2014-15, I do anticipate positions will be eliminated,” Sonnema said.