Susan Heinzelman

Cooperation between three centers within the College of Liberal Arts has grown since last year’s budget cuts, an unintended benefit from a challenging financial situation, said the centers’ directors.

Beginning this semester, the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies will now partner with the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies and the Center for Asian American Studies to pool faculty, graduate and undergraduate resources. Each center suffered substantial budget cuts after a $3.75 million deficit left the College of Liberal Arts unable to sustain its faculties. All of the academic centers provided classes and grants to students interested in their fields, and the cuts were implemented after Dean Randy Diehl met with individual directors to determine their need, said Richard Flores, senior associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

“What happened was, the central administration said that we should keep going with our plan to hire more professors, and then that summer before we started the 2010-2011 session we were told that we wouldn’t be receiving the money we were expecting,” Flores said. “That immediately put us into a deficit. Even if we get more money through higher tuition, we’re talking about 21 departments. That’s a lot of need in the college, and new revenue may not go to the centers.”

After the decision was made to cut funding, each academic center was cut by varying degrees according to the factors selected by the dean’s office, said Susan Heinzelman, the director of the CWGS.

“It had to deal with a lot of factors ranging from how many undergraduate majors we were producing, to our ability to attract alumni to the faculty that we had teaching our classes,” Heinzelman said. “I couldn’t say that there was one primary cause. The most important factor, however, was certainly the decision to base decisions on undergraduate output.”

Heinzelman said the cuts have since provided a stronger bond between the academic centers, resulting in this semester’s cooperative program.

“Since the budget cuts we have been working much more closely with other organizations across campus to get our programs sponsored, but this is something that we have always striven to do,” Heinzelman said. “In a time of crisis, one could say that one gets closer to the people that help you. I wouldn’t say that we have suffered more than anyone else. Everybody has been hurting, and we are doing the best we can to pull through.”

The cuts have caused the Warfield Center to stop offering any classes, said director Frank Guridy. Despite difficulties like these, Guridy said the center has benefited from increased cooperation with other Black studies centers and groups in the College of Liberal Arts.

“This semester we have a faculty workshop that brings together staff from both the Warfield and the women’s and gender studies center,” Guridy said. “We are talking about issues that not only affect our programming but also contribute to the intellectual life of the University. Making a better future is going to involve all of us working with each other while facing dwindling resources.”

Guridy said he does not expect funding to return to previous levels any time soon, but he hopes that the state will continue to support education.

“It would be naive for me to assume that funding is going to go back to what it was,” Guridy said. “Like all departments, we all know that we have to be creative about generating a robust fundraising effort. We are also still insisting upon the state’s ability to support education.”

Printed on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 as: Liberal arts cooperation grows with budget cuts

Several members of the Faculty Council asked UT Provost Steven Leslie on Monday how the central administration would assist academic centers through the budget cuts and challenged him on the measurements used to determine the productivity of the centers.

The College of Liberal Arts, faced with a reduction in expected funding from tuition, decided to form the faculty-led Academic Policy and Advisory Committee to determine from where the budget should be cut. In early November, the committee recommended a total $1 million budget cut to the college’s 15 area studies centers, and the cuts were based on the productivity of the centers.

Associate English professor Susan Heinzelman, director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, asked Leslie how the administration would support the centers given that they serve the entire University and not just the College of Liberal Arts.

Leslie said the University expects deeper budget cuts in the next legislative session and has had to weather the financial crisis for longer than anticipated. Leslie said the areas of gender and diversity are and will remain top priorities of the University. He said the college will try to use nonrecurring funds to replace recurring budget gaps in the next few years.

“It is probably more important than ever that we adopt a policy for our centers that they need to work hard to try to generate revenues and external funding to support their own operations,” Leslie said.

Philip Doty, an associate professor in the School of Information, said he understands the argument to fund each center across campus in the same way — through college support and heavy reliance on external grants. But the relative youth of the humanities centers in the college preclude them from being able to generate the grants and external support that science centers can get.

“Centers, especially in the humanities and social sciences, are systematically disadvantaged when compared to their sisters in the sciences of the various kinds,” Doty said. “The administration of the University [may need to] recognize that not everybody starts at the same place.”

The standards the committee used to measure the productivity of the centers are too similar to the accountability measures used by Texas A&M in evaluating the value of faculty members, said Ted Gordon, chairman of the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies.

In September, Texas A&M released a report on the productivity of their faculty that offered a profit-and-loss look at faculty members. The report weighed a faculty’s number of students versus salary and research grants.

“I have a real preoccupation about using these kind of basic metrics to evaluate anything,” Gordon said.

Leslie responded that he has not delved deeply into the committee process, but he said the committee worked hard to follow through the suggested process.

“They came out with a recommendation, and now we all need to work together to take that recommendation and follow through with what best serves the institution,” Leslie said.

Heinzelman said it’s hard to imagine that the ethnic studies centers in the College of Liberal Arts are so unproductive that they need to be cut by 40 percent each.

The committee collected data from the centers without their understanding of what APAC would use the information for, and then the committee turned it into statistical information, she said.

“The statistical data cannot access and properly report on the qualitative issues,” she said. “What is it worth to educate undergraduates into an understanding of gender and justice? If the premises upon which all of these data were collected is inaccurate or does not reflect what we do, then obviously the results are invalid.”
 

Several members of the Faculty Council asked UT Provost Steven Leslie on Monday how the central administration would assist academic centers through the budget cuts and challenged him on the measurements used to determine the productivity of the centers.

The College of Liberal Arts, faced with a reduction in expected funding from tuition, decided to form the faculty-led Academic Policy and Advisory Committee to determine from where the budget should be cut. In early November, the committee recommended a total $1 million budget cut to the college’s 15 area studies centers, and the cuts were based on the productivity of the centers.

Associate English professor Susan Heinzelman, director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, asked Leslie how the administration would support the centers given that they serve the entire University and not just the College of Liberal Arts.

Leslie said the University expects deeper budget cuts in the next legislative session and has had to weather the financial crisis for longer than anticipated. Leslie said the areas of gender and diversity are and will remain top priorities of the University. He said the college will try to use nonrecurring funds to replace recurring budget gaps in the next few years.

“It is probably more important than ever that we adopt a policy for our centers that they need to work hard to try to generate revenues and external funding to support their own operations,” Leslie said.

Philip Doty, an associate professor in the School of Information, said he understands the argument to fund each center across campus in the same way — through college support and heavy reliance on external grants. But the relative youth of the humanities centers in the college preclude them from being able to generate the grants and external support that science centers can get.

“Centers, especially in the humanities and social sciences, are systematically disadvantaged when compared to their sisters in the sciences of the various kinds,” Doty said. “The administration of the University [may need to] recognize that not everybody starts at the same place.”

The standards the committee used to measure the productivity of the centers are too similar to the accountability measures used by Texas A&M in evaluating the value of faculty members, said Ted Gordon, chairman of the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies.

In September, Texas A&M released a report on the productivity of their faculty that offered a profit-and-loss look at faculty members. The report weighed a faculty’s number of students versus salary and research grants.

“I have a real preoccupation about using these kind of basic metrics to evaluate anything,” Gordon said.

Leslie responded that he has not delved deeply into the committee process, but he said the committee worked hard to follow through the suggested process.

“They came out with a recommendation, and now we all need to work together to take that recommendation and follow through with what best serves the institution,” Leslie said.

Heinzelman said it’s hard to imagine that the ethnic studies centers in the College of Liberal Arts are so unproductive that they need to be cut by 40 percent each.

The committee collected data from the centers without their understanding of what APAC would use the information for, and then the committee turned it into statistical information, she said.

“The statistical data cannot access and properly report on the qualitative issues,” she said. “What is it worth to educate undergraduates into an understanding of gender and justice? If the premises upon which all of these data were collected is inaccurate or does not reflect what we do, then obviously the results are invalid.”