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Academic cuts released, could save $3.8 million annually

Published: February 22, 2010
Section: Front Page


The Brandeis 2020 Committee today released a list of 18 proposals to either terminate or reorganize graduate and undergraduate programs in an effort to save the university $3.8 million annually beginning in 2012.

Eight of the proposals affect graduate programs, and include indefinitely suspending admissions to the Anthropology Ph.D. program, the master’s program in Cultural Production and the Master’s of Fine Arts in Theatre Design. Other proposals concerning graduate programs include merging the Biochemistry and Biophysics and Structural Biology doctoral programs, halving the number of Computer Science Ph.D. students, reducing the number of Chemistry Ph.D. candidates from 25 to 20, reducing the budget of the Brandeis Theatre Company and the requirement that all Graduate School of Arts and Sciences stand-alone master’s programs create a three-year plan detailing how they will achieve goals set by the dean of the Graduate School for Arts and Sciences.

The cuts to graduate programs will decrease the number of graduate students supported by the university by 15 to 20 students, Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffe, who chaired the Brandeis 2020 Committee, said.

Other proposals that will affect undergraduate studies include terminating the Italian Studies major, the Hebrew Language and Literature major, the Internet Studies minor and the Yiddish and East European Jewish Culture minor. All terminations would be effective with the class of 2015 and would allow current students to graduate with degrees in their chosen field. The report recommends that the Physics Department consider whether the biological physics major can be replaced with a track within the physics major, but leaves the decision up to the Department.

Jaffe said that though departments would be cut, classes in those areas of study will still be offered. He added that the majors and minors being eliminated have no more than five students declared.

“Considering everyone double majors now anyway, we’re hoping this will have a minimal effect,” 2020 committee member Prof. Sara Lamb (ANTH) said.

Brandeis’ sciences were hit with multiple proposals which recommend the chemistry, biochemistry, biology, physics, math and computer sciences departments be reorganized under an “umbrella” of a “Division of Science,” which would consolidate and reorganize science classes. This consolidation would include the reduction of 10 full-time faculty members by eliminating the research portfolios of chemical dynamics, immunology, radio astronomy and combinatronics.

The proposal recommends the American Studies Department become an Interdepartmental Program as opposed to a department and that the new program be reduced by four faculty through attrition.

Despite the cuts, Jaffe said he believes the proposals would make American Studies “a stronger major.

“It will be able to draw on various other departments to thrive,” Jaffe said.

The proposal also recommends the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (NEJS) be reduced by four full-time equivalents.

Though the proposal recommends a reduction of 35 full-time equivalent faculty. Jaffe said only six to seven faculty members and six to seven administrative staff members would be reduced by Fiscal Year 2012. The faculty reduction would most likely come from contract-faculty of the affected departments. The remaining 28 full-time faculty equivalents would be reduced “through attrition.”

“The ultimate goal is saving money,” Jaffe said, “But the board doesn’t care if we save money in the next few years or in the long run.”

The report also asks that NEJS faculty positions be joined with other departments in order to better integrate the department with the rest of the university.

The report also recommends the faculty in Comparative Literature, European Cultural Studies, English and American Literature, German Studies, Russian Studies, French and Francophone Studies, Hispanic Studies and Judaic Studies “consider a restructuring the literature and cultural offerings to increase flexibility … and to facilitate better sharing of resources” by March 1.

While some faculty members had voiced the suggestion earlier in the semester that the 2020 Committee look into eliminating the University Writing Seminar and the foreign language requirement, the Committee’s report does not propose those changes.

The Brandeis 2020 Committee was formed at the beginning of the Spring semester after the board of trustees ordered the university to make academic cuts to help alleviate the university’s $25 million annual budget shortfall. While the board did not give the committee a “target” amount of money to save, Jaffe said, “the board asked us to do what we thought should be done.”

“We believe we have done what has been asked of us,” he said.

The proposed changes must be approved by Provost Marty Krauss and the board in order to be implemented.

The proposals will be discussed by the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, Faculty Senate and Graduate School Council. Additionally, an open forum for students will be held Thursday at 5 p.m. in the Olin-Sang auditorium.

While these reviews will most likely result in tweaks of the proposals, Jaffe said the committee hopes all facets of the proposals will be implemented.

“It’s an integrated plan,” he said. “We really look at it as a package and are hoping the package will remain as a package.”


To view the proposal, click here.