Summary Report

of the Ad Hoc Committee on Reductions in

Expenditures in Arts and Sciences

9 June 1993

The recommendations are divided into three categories. The first--phasing out-- concerns structural changes whose logic, we feel, transcends the financial exigencies of the moment. The second section--holding back--will not produce immediate savings, but rather suggests several areas where additional expenditures should not be made and where downsizing might ultimately occur. Finally we discuss--as tightening up--three ways to increase departmental efficiency and responsibility.

If further cuts are necessary, we recommend eliminating several of the weakest of the almost 200 subunits in Arts and Sciences departments. If that option is selected, we suggest that the Dean of the Faculty once again request--this time demand--that each department identify its weakest, most easily spared unit or activity or faculty member, whose elimination or retirement might produce a 5% savings in both dollars and FTE (from faculty, GTAs, or classified staff) within the next biennium. Then these departmental selections could be ranked, by our committee if you wish, and eliminations could be made until the desired savings are effected.

I. Phasing Out

Astrometry Program in the Department of Astronomy

External support for ground-based astrometry is likely to remain low, and the visiting committee's report of 1989, while praising the astrometry effort of the Astronomy Department, pointed out that "the astrometric program can justify the Department's [large] investment only insofar as it continues to produce competitive results as compared with other major astrometric efforts around the world." The department's own report in 1991 stated that "astrometric work . . . is generally not at the forefront of astronomical investigation. It is also the program that places the greatest demand on the state budget." The department selected astrometry as the unit that would be least missed in the event of budget cuts, and we recommend that it be phased out.

Department of Rhetoric and Communication Studies

The Rhetoric and Communication Studies Department has provided valuable service to the University, teaching more than its share of undergraduate students. While the discipline seems as fragmented as the joint departmental name suggests, the fields and subfields of rhetoric and communication are clearly important, and in fact are studied in a number of other departments. One could make the case that rhetoric, a discipline that was once the cornerstone of ancient and medieval education, is now so well integrated into other studies that a separate department is no longer necessary.

A more specific case, and the main reason that we think RCS should be phased out, is that the department will be unable to achieve a significant national rating without substantial additional funding, a Ph.D. program, and new initiatives in such fields as media studies. The Department's 1991 plan calls for additional FTEs and fellowships amounting to $275,000, and warns that without such increases "our resources will continue to be more or less wasted, and the Department will be condemned to its mediocre status." Even if funding were available, we think that a major effort to upscale the RCS department would be a mistake. A large department or subdepartment of media studies or film studies, for example, would be as unwise, and as uncompetitive nationally, as a department of journalism or linguistics. We are a middle-sized university and the secret of our success is not to attempt to do everything, but to do everything we attempt with distinction.

Division of Humanities, School of Engineering and Applied Science

The humanities faculty in the School of Engineering and Applied Science are among the University's most devoted undergraduate teachers, but they work--through no fault of their own--in a structure that strikes us as an anomaly. Why should the University have a separate humanities faculty in the Engineering School, independent from and unnourished by the strong humanities departments in Arts and Sciences, uninvolved in graduate instruction, and--tied down by heavy teaching loads--unable for the most part to make major commitments to scholarship and research?

These are times that call for the elimination of anomalies, and we concur with the report of the Visiting Committee in 1989 that "the pressures for change [in the Division] are inexorable and overwhelming." We recommend, as did the 1986 University Self-Study, the phasing out of the Division of Humanities in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, and Statistics

In order to coordinate the activities and, when appropriate, consolidate their offerings, we recommend merging the Department of Mathematics, the Department of Applied Mathematics in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the newly autonomous Division of Statistics into an arts and sciences Department of Mathematical Sciences.

II. Holding Back

Expansion is the dream of departments, all of which claim the need for more faculty, more graduate fellowships, more space. The most recent departmental 10-year plans, although written when the bottom was falling out in early 1991, suggest the exuberance of the 1980s, the manifest destiny of the 1840s. As we move into the isostasy of the middle 1990s, however, the opportunities for expansion will be minimal and increases in one area of a department's budget will generally be possible only if corresponding decreases are made in other areas.

In our committee discussions, we have identified several principles that might be employed in holding the line. One is to contain programs that serve important student and community needs, but are not likely to be competitive nationally, especially in graduate studies. Thus we recommend against a studio MFA in the department of Art, and against an expansion of the studio program in Music. The Division of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures should concentrate largely on language studies, and not attempt to create comprehensive offerings in history, literature, and culture or to attempt a nationally competitive graduate program. The same point holds for the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and, in fact, the two units might be combined into a Division of Slavic, Middle Eastern, and Asian Languages.

III. Tightening Up

Lean times call for strong departmental leadership, and we put forward three suggestions meant to encourage continual self-scrutiny on the part of departments, and to provide support for department chairs in leading their faculty.

Closing the Gap Between Budgeted and Earned Faculty FTE

Departments whose budgeted FTEs outrun their earned FTEs are, in effect, subsidized by other departments--a problem that may intensify in the coming years. However we adjudicate our teaching and research responsibilities with the state, we are likely to be requiring more instruction in the 1990s from the current number of faculty members. In order to even out the teaching load, and to encourage efficiency, we recommend that departments which are consistently budgeted for more FTEs than they produce should be put on notice that they are in jeopardy of losing a faculty line.

Monitoring Class Size

We believe strongly in small classes, for they are the areas in our enterprise where teaching and learning often find their most powerful expression. But we recommend that ridiculously small classes be cancelled. Each department should establish minimums for its various kinds of offerings, write them down, inform all faculty--and the Dean-- what the minimums are, and then stick to them. Such a policy could improve our teaching ratios, since there is a point where a class is too small to be sound pedagogically, where the students are too few to provide a rich interchange. And such a policy would, in the long run, help to protect reasonably sized small classes and seminars.

Departmental Discipline

Departmental chairs should schedule regular meetings with individual faculty, and candidly discuss their contributions and progress in teaching, scholarship and research, and service. If a tenured faculty member becomes less successful or less interested in research, or more involved with pedagogy and departmental duties, he or she should be allowed to strike a new bargain, taking on additional teaching duties in trade for lessened research expectations. It is the job of the chair to encourage the most appropriate use of the talents of the faculty, to monitor changing needs, and to ensure that everyone does his or her share.

teamsept@Virginia.EDQ