Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Academic cuts imminent pending faculty review: “The Board has given us no choice” – Dean Adam Jaffe

Published: January 22, 2010
Section: Front Page

The university will be forced to make cuts to its academic commitments in response to what Board of Trustees member Meyer Koplow ’72 called a “$25 million ongoing budget shortfall in the typical year” at a special faculty meeting Wednesday evening.

Such cuts could include the “phasing out” of entire majors or Master’s or PhD programs, allowing current students to complete the program without offering the programs to incoming classes.

Members of the student press were not allowed into the meeting in order to give faculty the opportunity to speak freely, however, they were able to speak directly to Koplow and Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffe after the meeting.

Jaffe said the decision to make additional cuts was top-down, saying, “Frankly, the Board has given us no choice.”

Last fall the university suffered from what was then projected as an $80 million budget shortfall over the next five years. In an attempt to close those budget gaps, the university’s Curriculum and Academic Restructuring Steering Committee (CARS) recommended that the university suspend contributions to retirement funds of faculty and staff, and initiated the Justice Brandeis Semester program, both of which were implemented by the Board of Trustees.

Last spring the CARS committee also recommended that the university attempt to entice older faculty to retire early, however it was unsuccessful. The Board hopes that by phasing out departments and academic programs, it can begin to cut contract faculty accordingly. The hope is that the phase-out will also lead to the retirement of older professors in the affected programs.

While the cuts are necessary, Koplow said he hopes they will be taken as an opportunity for the university to prioritize what makes Brandeis special, and to cut back its “academic commitments” accordingly.

“We need to strengthen and foster that which we excel at, but if that means we can’t spend money on other programs, does that lead to cuts? Absolutely it does,” Koplow said.

He added that specific programs would be phased out, as opposed to an across the board cut because “why would you want to cut things that are very strong?”

Recommendations for new cuts will be made by a faculty committee which includes many of the members of last spring’s CARS committee, but which is much larger than CARS.

“The Board is not in a position to make these decisions,” Koplow said. “These decisions belong to the academy.”

The reinstituted CARS committee will not have the same flexibility as it did last year, Jaffe said.

“Last spring there was a sense that we were discussing changes that we then had the right to accept or not accept, but the Board has told us there will definitely be reductions,” Jaffe said.

Last semester when CARS recommended that the American Studies, Afro and African American Studies and Classical Studies departments be converted into programs the backlash from the community was so great that Provost Marty Krauss rejected the suggested changes. Given last year’s response, the plan to phase out entire programs is likely to elicit objections from faculty and students.

But, Koplow said, the university has no choice.

“I hate to play the bad guy,” Koplow said, “But if the resources aren’t there, the resources aren’t there.”

This article has been modified to reflect the following corrections: PhD programs, along with Masters’ and majors are at risk of being phased out, a committee similar to CARS but larger than CARS will be responsible for determining what will be phased out.