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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Learning from our mistakes

Published: January 22, 2010
Section: Editorials

Wednesday evening, the Board of Trustees announced that the university must make substantial cuts to its academic programs in order to tackle a persistent multi-million dollar budget shortfall. After summarily rejecting last semester’s budget trimming suggestions courtesy of CARS, the university community will no longer be able to hem and haw over possibilities. We will be forced to cut where it hurts. Like Dean Adam Jaffe said, we have no choice.

Last semester, this editorial board encouraged students and faculty to have an open mind about cuts or changes to academic programs. While the phasing out of a beloved major or the semi-forced retirement of an admired professor is regrettable, for the sake of the whole, painful choices must be made. This is not a new message. President Jehuda Reinharz stressed this point during discussions about the possible selling of the Rose Art Museum’s collection.

Valid message though it is, it will of course impact the character of the university we’ve all come to know over the past years. But at least this time around, the decision to cut has been thought over much more thoroughly. The measured way in which this announcement was made stands in sharp contrast to the hubbub and confusion that surrounded the debate about the Rose Art Museum and indicates the administration may have learned something from that debacle.

The university, the administration and the student body will now be heading into this process with both eyes wide open; rather than the uncertainty that surrounded last semester’s CARS committee, the community knows that cuts must ensue from this next round of discussion. Hopefully, all participants will be more circumspect this time at all stages, from formulating recommendations to making concrete attempts to solicit opinions from students and faculty.