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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

FRC:Physics cuts unwise

Published: March 4, 2005
Section: News

The FRC stated that Jaffes proposal to close down an important research focus [high energy physics] by eliminating 4 FTEs in Physics is unwise.

The FRC talked at length about the research programs current benefits and the contributions Physics has made to Brandeis over the years, including at one point being the biggest department on campus.

It also mentioned other recent cuts in the Physics department. The FRCs basic sentiment on the issue was further cuts would significantly hamper the department.
Physics is one of the cornerstones of the sciences along with math, chemistry, and the life sciences, the FRC wrote. Physics must be kept strong because it is the foundation upon which chemistry and the life sciences are built … A University that prides itself on the sciences must have a strong Physics department with strong research.

Although Physics taught over 1000 undergraduates in 03-04, it had one of the lowest students per course per faculty ratio. The FRC found that this was acceptable.

That Physics should teach fewer students per course per faculty than other departments is expected given the nature of physics as a subject, the report stated. These lower ratios are not a measure of the worth or the quality of the department.

The Physics department may not teach as many undergraduates as the majority of other departments, but that alone is insufficient to warrant cuts, FRC found. If the Physics department graduate and research programs are top notch, then one should seek to keep what is strong. Moreover, if cuts or other changes are to be made, how these changes are implemented should be the purview of the department perhaps with outside oversight/advice.

Ultimately, the FRC asked that no cuts be made in physics without a much more thorough study of the department, its costs and benefits.