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Program cuts to be announced this month

Published: February 5, 2010
Section: Front Page


The Brandeis 2020 Committee will announce its proposed academic cuts on Feb. 24, the committee’s chair Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffe told Thursday’s faculty meeting.

The 2020 Committee has three major criteria for deciding which academic programs should remain intact: Programs needed in order to maintain Brandeis’ standing as a respectable research and liberal arts university, programs that distinguish Brandeis from other universities, and programs at which Brandeis excels.

“The problem is that one could argue everything we might want to cut would fall under that criteria,” Jaffe said, adding that student demand and interest in programs is also being taken into account.

Chairs of departments that the committee is considering phasing out will be notified on Sunday, and the committee will meet with members of each School between Tuesday and Thursday of next week to discuss the effect the proposals could have on the school.

Jaffe reassured the meeting that tenured-track faculty of the phased out departments will be reassigned to other departments, rather than having their contract ended; however, contract faculty of the phased out departments will not have their contracts renewed.

“I’m not going to sit here and try to sugar coat it for you by telling you that contracts will be renewed,” he said. “They will not.”

Some professors present at the faculty meeting were concerned about the quick pace at which the decisions will be made; however, Jaffe said the proposals must be announced on Feb. 24 in order to be presented to the board of trustees at its next meeting on March 24.

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Apfel told the faculty that the board of trustees is planning on restructuring the university’s debt at their March meeting. The board will also decide whether to dip into the university’s reserve fund at the meeting as well.

“There is a general feeling on the board that if they are going to advance more money and if they are going to dip into the reserve fund, they want to see a commitment from us to save money and live within our means,” Apfel said.

Provost Marty Krauss also vouched for the board’s feelings. “There is a lot of skepticism on the board that we are committed,” she said.

Prof. Jerry Cohen (AMST) said he was concerned that the March deadline for the cuts would be detrimental to the university’s recruitment for the class of 2014.

“If you’ve got bad news, why not wait until summer to announce it?” Cohen asked. “I don’t think we’ve discussed the consequences and wider ramifications–partially in terms of [public relations]–that this news could bring.”

But, Jaffe said “the board of trustees won’t let us delay the deadline, despite the admissions cycle.”

Cohen also expressed concern about how the university would make the announcement of the academic cuts to “the outside world given our [public relations] track record.”

Jaffe replied that the university will “not make any smoke and mirrors when we announce it.”

“There are aspects of the proposals that we don’t like but we can cast it as an exciting turning point for the university to refocus,” he said. “This is painful but will make us stronger, that’s the story I will be trying to spin.”

This article has been modified to reflect the following correction: The board of trustees meeting will take place on March 24, not March 4.