Academic departments to merge due to cuts

The University plans to merge the romance and Slavic language programs as its academic departments face campus-wide budget cuts.

The anticipated reorganization is only one of the measures being taken by the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences after GW authorized $4.6 million in campus-wide budget reallocations last spring.

Officials said the cuts are necessary to support the University’s increased technology demands, improvements in Gelman Library and the expansion of the University Writing Program, which was introduced to freshmen last fall.

“A study group is planning to form within the next couple of weeks to find out the right way to go about this,” said Gregory Ludlow, interim chair of the Romance Languages and Literature Department, in an interview last week.

Plans for the merger are still “premature,” Ludlow said, adding that the committee working out the changes will be chaired by Michael Moses, CCAS’s associate dean of graduate studies.

“Basically, the hope is that the aims of the commission will be outlined at the last meeting and the merger will be official as of the spring semester 2005,” he said.

Richard Robin, chair of the German and Slavic Languages and Literature Department, said the commission will investigate how the cost-cutting measure, which will save the Columbian school $50,000, will be put into place.

“It’s going to begin as school starts and will outline the major issues regarding the merger, mainly what parts of the programs we want to keep alike and what we want to do differently,” he said.

Robin added that thought will be given to class space, course requirements, Web sites and the possibility of new majors and graduate programs for the combined departments.

The effect on students should not be drastic, Robin said, since the two programs already share resources and class space.

More tough decisions for CCAS

The merger between the two language departments is not the only change happening within the Columbian College, and other schools at the University have been forced to rethink their financial plans.

Donald Lehman, executive vice president for Academic Affairs, said each of the University’s academic departments were asked to reallocate funding after the new budget went into effect July 1.

“In academic affairs, we did this strategically,” Lehman said. “Some areas were given a high level of scrutiny, especially those areas that were not performing well.”

He said school deans were asked to decide how funds would be reallocated, and their proposals were discussed with officials from academic affairs.

CCAS Dean William Frawley did not provide current budget information, but said the school has been “engaging in internal reallocations for some time in order to secure GW’s position as a top-tier university.”

“Of course we all wish we had more money than less, but we must be realistic about how we can get where we need to as a university,” Frawley wrote in an e-mail.

In addition, the school recently began appointing special study groups to examine the possibility of combining the Humanities Department with the Department of Human Sciences. Frawley said such a merger would capitalize on overlapping research and teaching, but students now enrolled in the affected programs will still be allowed to continue their degree in their respective majors and minors.

But despite some cuts, Frawley said CCAS will increase funding to its Dean’s Seminar classes, its writing curriculum and the Luther Rice Fellows program, an undergraduate research support system.

Enrollment issues for the Elliott School

Harry Harding, dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs, said the problem for his college lies not in the budget and fiscal matters but in an enrollment that has more than doubled in the past 10 years.

While the Elliott School will receive nearly $50 million this year, an increase of more than $8 million from last year, Harding said the school’s funding does not adequately keep up with its burgeoning student population. In 2003, 1,791 undergraduate students were enrolled in the Elliott School, a 31 percent increase from three years ago.

“We will not have a budget issue next year, but eventually there will be a problem,” he said, looking ahead to the future.

The international affairs college plans to counterbalance the speedy influx of students by increasing its endowments and other outside monetary sources, Harding said. The school will further examine its current financial situation to effectively prioritize funding, he added.

With the extra funds it is receiving this year, the Elliott School is introducing an Institute for Global and International Studies. An additional undergraduate advisor and two Shapiro Professors, both of whom will act as co-directors of the Elliott School, will also be hired.

While Harding refused to name where specific budget cuts were made within the school, he said they would be “invisible, without any net effect on the students.”

School of Business cuts

Susan Phillips, dean of the School of Business, said that to trim spending, the school did not fill two vacant faculty positions and one vacant staff position. She added that the school would be adding more class sections to deal with increased enrollment numbers from a larger-than-expected freshmen class.

“I don’t think the budget has been quite finalized yet, but I wouldn’t say it’s a lot different,” she said.

While Phillips said incoming freshmen and undergraduate students will not see many changes in the school, some adjustments have been made in the school’s graduate curriculum. The school is axing its executive master’s of business program but is introducing its similar accelerated MBA program.

Phillips added that like the Elliott School, the business school faces a quickly burgeoning enrollment and she said that a fundraising effort is ongoing to provide adequate funding to the college and its programs.

Administrative cuts

Executive Vice President and Treasurer Louis Katz said that in addition to academic departments, GW’s administrative offices have also faced adjustments.

“We are trying to make the changes in a way that will not affect the product we provide,” said Katz, who added that students should not notice any visible changes that would directly affect their GW experience.

He said that in order to meet fiscal demands, the University has reorganized a number of its financial departments to increase their efficiency and decided to postpone original plans to renovate classrooms and re-carpet offices.

However, Katz emphasized that in the interest of its students, GW will not eliminate student services or reduce hours at on-campus venues. A plan to cut the free newspaper program was shelved after officials received complaints from hundreds of students.

He added, “If we think we have gone to far, we will make the appropriate re-adjustments.”

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