UNR Faculty Wants to Save Ag, Foreign Languages

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RENO, Nev. (AP) - The Faculty Senate at the University of Nevada, Reno has voted to try to renegotiate budget cuts that would close the College of Agriculture and eliminate some foreign-language programs.

The Senate voted Thursday on recommendations that are a response to cuts proposed by the university provost to slash $11 million, including $8 million to academic programs and $3 million within the administration, athletics and other areas.

They follow $33 million in reductions from previous state-mandated cuts.

Provost Marc Johnson and UNR President Milton Glick will consider the recommendations before deciding what they will submit to the Board of Regents in June.

During an often emotional, five-hour meeting, faculty members were reminded of the human toll of budget cuts.

The spoke of learning they or colleagues will lose their jobs, expressed fears for students who might not complete research projects and lamented an overall brain drain at the university, viewed by some as an academic sinking ship.

Maureen Kilkenny, a senator from the College of Agriculture, said she was told her job would be eliminated when the college is closed or shrunk.

"I was so depressed I couldn't eat and I couldn't sleep," she said. "In 2005, I gave up tenure to come to UNR. I have argued that productivity be used as the key reason for eliminating jobs rather than just drawing circles around certain programs.

"And unless we find a way to stop this end-run around tenure, as we know it, I have to go," she said, her voice quavering. "It was an honor to work here."

Faculty members questioned whether the provost was following criteria he said would be used to evaluate how cuts should be made.

John Cushman, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, said if student enrollment is a determining factor in a college's importance, the College of Agriculture should be spared.

He said the college has had an 18 percent growth rate in the last three years compared with 3.8 percent for the entire university.

He added that the college's departments earn more research grants than the colleges of education, business, journalism and the Division of Health Sciences.