New UMD Initiative Aims to Cut Millions

Posted at: 09/26/2013 10:16 PM
Updated at: 09/26/2013 10:37 PM
By: Maarja Anderson

Slashing budgets and financial stability seem to be constant battles for higher education. This year, UMD needs to cut millions from their budget. They are tackling the task with a new initiative, Program Prioritization.

A forum on Thursday brought national expert and political scientist Ben Ginsberg to campus. He discussed his book "The Fall of the Faculty." He goes into detail of "administrative bloat," a term for the nation-wide trend Ginsberg says he sees where universities add administrators while slashing budgets.

The talk comes at the same time UMD is taking a new look at their programs while trying to cut millions from their budget.

"We want to go to the people in the programs and talk to them about what's the best way to more effectively do what we do," said UMD's Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Andrea Schokker. "They probably have the best idea of what can be most efficient."

Administration said Program Prioritization is a way to review every single department at the university with the help of committees made up of department heads.

On the academic committee is Dr. Steven Matthews of the History Department. He said the new initiative puts faculty on edge because of the unknown, and the amount that needs to be cut: $12 million.

"That's significant and that's another reason for a certain amount of anxiety on campus, we know that money has to come from somewhere," said Dr. Matthews.

It's not just academic programs under review, administration says it's any budgeted program at the university.

"A number of the areas in our university are supported by fees and so this gives us an opportunity to look at those areas as well... it's across the board," said Lisa Erwin, Vice Chancellor of Student Life.

But Dr. Matthews says the faculty remains uneasy.

"The impression I get, and this is typical among faculty, is that there is a certain emphasis on academic programs. The real process includes everything that is a budget line on campus," he said.

According to the administration, this fall the committees will set up criteria to judge the departments and then during the Spring semester they'll know where revisions or cuts are needed.