University officials disagree whether the Graduate School of Education and Human Development canceled next year’s American sign language classes because of a budget change. But no matter the explanation, GSEHD Dean Mary Futrell said the school can no longer afford to offer the courses.
The Columbian College Speech and Hearing Science department has expressed interest in offering the sections of ASL, which about 60 mostly undergraduate students took this year at GW’s Virginia campus.
Vice President for Finance Don Boselovic said the budget model has not changed, like GSEHD officials say it has, to prohibit graduate schools to receive tuition revenues from undergraduate schools for students enrolled in their classes.
GSEHD Associate Dean of Operations Bob Ianacone said last week that until two years ago his school received money for each undergraduate enrolled in GSEHD classes like ASL.
“My understanding is we were receiving some revenue directly from undergraduate student tuition,” Futrell said.
Shotel estimates GSEHD lost $100,000 on ASL classes this year.
Boselovic said GSEHD included ASL faculty in their budget “for some time,” and if the school needed more money to operate a program Futrell could have requested funds through Academic Affairs.
Futrell said regardless of if the budget has changed, GSEHD has requested a larger operating budget to support the sign language classes but GW denied the funds necessary to continue the courses.
“We were able to demonstrate to (budget officials) that we did not have the revenue to support this program,” Futrell said. “We very reluctantly had to decide we couldn’t do it.”
Boselovic said schools usually request more than they receive in the University budget.
“Everybody has a large wish list,” he said.
Boselovic explained that the University budget is set up this way so GW can “hold schools accountable for things they can control,” like admissions and enrollment.
“They can’t necessarily control how many students take their classes,” he said, but schools’ operating budgets are determined in part by how many programs they run. The main source of schools’ revenue and expense funds come from student tuition.
Both GSEHD officials and Boselovic said conversations have arisen between the school and budget office.
“Conversation has been going back and forth, trying to get clarification and relief, and there has been none,” Futrell said.
Boselovic said GSEHD deans and Shotel may not understand the budget model, and he stressed that it has not changed recently. His office uses a formula to determine how much funding graduate schools should receive for undergraduate programs, he said, but “it was never used as a form for developing a budget,” Boselovic said.
CCAS Speech and Hearing Science Chair Geralyn Schulz said she is writing a proposal for her department to pick up the ASL classes.
Schulz, head of an ad hoc CCAS committee on ASL, said she has also “been a vocal proponent of having ASL count as a general requirement for language in the Columbian College.”
CCAS officials could not be reached for comment.
Futrell said GSEHD will not cancel any other courses for next year even though one computer literacy class is primarily undergraduate.