Education

Fresno State budget plan reaction from both sides

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fresno State is considering a plan to save the university thousands of dollars in administrative costs by doing away with the department of science and mathematics. But the proposal is drawing stiff criticism from students and faculty.

Here's the plan -- by moving the college of science and mathematics over to the college of agriculture -- a budget advisory task force found Fresno state could save around $250 thousand a year. But students and faculty we talked with claim the loss to the university would be greater than the savings.

"I understand the campus is looking at a budget crunch, but there has to be another way to do it," said Rebecca Asami. "Lowering the quality of education doesn't seem like the best route to me."

Rebecca Asami is a graduate student in geology at Fresno State. Right now she's working on a research project - studying plate tectonics in the High Sierra. But she's concerned if Fresno State moves forward with a proposal to consolidate colleges - her department could be abolished and it will lose out on thousands of dollars in money for research.

Asami said, "A lot of students I've talked with are thinking about leaving if this happens."

Leaving -- she says -- because they're also concerned their degree won't carry as much weight. Under the proposal the college of earth and environmental sciences would be moved to the college of agriculture -- which she says may make graduates less marketable to potential employers.

Asami said, "If you want to go on to graduate school, if you want to do research after you graduate, it really isn't good for your resume to have your diploma coming from the school of ag."

Faculty members are also concerned about the possible reorganization.

Dr. Stephen Lewis said, "There is no other CSU campus today that does not have a college of science."

Dr. Lewis is a professor of geophysics at Fresno State. He says he's already received information from past and present donors that they will no longer provide the college with funding - if the proposal goes through.

Dr. Stephen Lewis said, "The fact that we're a college of science and mathematics helps us compete for those federal research grants. It's very competitive, roughly only 10-15 percent get funded at the national level."

He also says keeping the department's identity is crucial in attracting and retaining a high quality teaching staff. He's concerned - a degree under another name will deter future candidates from working at Fresno State.

Dr. Lewis said, "We would probably not be able to provide as many opportunities to our students and our faculty that we can now."

To be fair we did reach out to the budget advisory task force - to weigh in. We were told they did not want to comment on the proposal until after a meeting with members Wednesday. A final decision isn't expected until March.

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fresno state, budget cuts, education, linda mumma
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