As you may recall, on June 17 I proposed the following budget reductions in response to the cuts in state funding:
(1) several reductions in offices reporting to the Chancellor; (2) two administrative positions in the College of Architecture; (3) reduction of the Areas of Strength program in the College of Arts and Sciences; (4) restructuring and downsizing the Russian Language program and eliminating instruction in Portuguese; (5) restructuring of engineering extension and the downsizing of administrative budgets in the Dean's office, College of Engineering; (6) reducing the College of Engineering's undergraduate equipment fund, to be replaced by the proceeds from the new fee attached to engineering courses; (7) eliminating the department of Industrial Systems Technology at the Peter Kiewit Institute in Omaha; (8) eliminating the Omaha site day-time program delivery in the College of Human Resources and Family Sciences; and (9) eliminating the department of Health and Human Performance in Teachers College.
The APC recommended that all but one of the proposals be accepted, and made a suggestion for increasing revenues. You can find the recommendations of the APC on our Web site.
The one proposal to which the APC expressed concerns was the proposal to eliminate the Omaha site day-time program delivery in the College of Human Resources and Family Sciences (now the College of Education and Human Sciences). UNL offers three curricula in Omaha: Family Sciences; Nutrition and Dietetics; and Textiles, Clothing and Design. The committee felt this program elimination most directly affected a large, disadvantaged population in the Omaha area--nontraditional students who are single mothers, who are least likely to be able to take these courses in Lincoln. I am not in a position to restore all of these Omaha programs but I have decided to accept the APC recommendation regarding the Family Science program. However, I am reaffirming the elimination of our Textile and Nuitrition programs in Omaha.
The APC expressed no objection to the other reductions and those will also be made final.
The APC also proposed a way to generate additional income by charging students an additional fee for re-taking a course. The committee estimated this plan could generate between $180,000 and $360,000 in revenue per year. I am not inclined to adopt this recommendation for two reasons. First, it would require an investment in technological adaptations to accommodate the fee. Currently our system is not set up to track which courses are 'repeats', and although this sounds simple on the surface, it is not. Many course numbers are set up to be repeated, for example, independent study courses within a department. There is also no way now to track which courses on another campus are similar enough to be counted as a 'repeat' when taken again at UNL. Second, it is my feeling that this fee would have the greatest impact on our most economically-disadvantaged students. While I am not accepting this recommendation at this time, I will keep it in mind as a future option, pending further investigation.
There is one remaining matter from an earlier round of reductions. The APC encouraged me to rethink the Museum Studies master's degree program and I had agreed to do so. The APC's concern was that the tuition income from students seemed to match or exceed the costs of the program. My concern was that before any of these reductions came about, we were informed that additional resources were required to sustain the program and that its director intended to leave that position. In addition, the program did not have an academic home nor members of the resident faculty who claimed ownership of it. We have explored actively with a number of deans whether a college and faculty were willing to assume responsibility for this program. We did not generate much enthusiasm in return. I know this program was a good program and responded in a variety of ways to student interest and to the interests of the museum community in Nebraska. But under these conditions I believe I have no choice but to also finally end this academic program as well.
I know these reductions will be painful, but they are necessary to achieve the budget reductions imposed upon us. State revenue projections are not optimistic; however, I hope this will be the last time I will have to engage the campus in the difficult process of reducing our budget and, therefore, our services to our students and to the state.
I want to acknowledge the extraordinary effort of members of the Academic Planning Committee who, I'm certain, struggled with the pain of these reductions and the reality of the budget reduction. We owe each of them our thanks. And thanks to all of you who have lived under the threat of these reductions and yet have continued to build a great university.