Sep 06, 2010 Letters
Reductions in governmental aid to universities are inducing such universities to overly scrutinize their budgets for fluff, with the view to reducing their annual deficits. And governmental refusals to meet universities’ deficits have forced universities to launch significant reorganisation.
Take a look at Florida International University’s budget-cutting reorganisation plan in the 2009-2010 academic year. Former Florida Atlantic University’s President Frank T. Brogan agreed that the plan was necessary to address the $16.7 million cut in State aid. This plan intended to cut 170 faculties and staff positions, 140 of which were already vacant; and the 30 positions, including five tenured professors, were indeed removed from the payroll. In one faculty, two professors taught one course in the fall but were unavailable in the spring semester, resulting in inefficient scheduling and duplication.
As a result of reduced governmental aid, President Ben Allen of the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) launched a reorganisation initiative to reduce expenditures and increase revenues. With effect from July 1, 2010, Allen disbanded the Marketing and Advancement Division, thereby eliminating one Vice President; this Division contained marketing and public relations, university development, and alumni relations.
Then UNI’s Executive Vice President and Provost Gloria Gibson recommended the merging of the Colleges of Humanities and Fine Arts and Natural Sciences; Gibson noted that this merging will strengthen academic offerings and reduce administrative expenses.
The University of Southern Maine tackles several aspects of reorganisation. Reorganisation must attempt to create a fiscally-sustainable organisational structure that evens out the administrative areas, in order to divert more resources to academics. The University now reviews programmes that produce five or less than five graduates, or 12 or less than 12 students per course. The University also is reducing non-academic areas, including senior administrative positions to save $1 million in 2011.
There is an interesting review in the Wall Street Journal by Naomi Riley of Mark Taylor’s book, Crisis on Campus, A Bold Plan for Reforming our Colleges and Universities. Taylor’s book does poignantly bring to the fore the concept of reorganisation in higher education. And within the context of Taylor’s book, we could argue that abolishing tenure for professors, providing greater emphasis on teaching, and terminating very rigid academic departments are some factors, inter alia, that universities in the developing world need to consider in overhauling higher education.
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