Computer science makes do with less

Kaylee Remington

RCM budget model squeezes dept., forces likely faculty layoff

The department of computer science is one of the departments faced with challenges posed by the new budget model that takes effect next fiscal year.

“We’re being hit by the RCM (Responsibility Center Management) model resulting by not hiring people,” Robert Walker, chair of the department of computer science said. “In the next year, we won’t hire part-time faculty, and three non-tenure faculty will not likely return.”

The computer science department is affected by this budget plan because of funds granted by the state of Ohio in the mid-1990s to build its doctoral program, he said.

“Unfortunately, that funding has now ended, but that was not unexpected, and we have been reducing expenses and saving some of the funds in preparation for their eventual loss,” Walker said.

The state gave the department about $600,000 in 1996 that was expected to last eight to 10 years.

Using that money, the department grew from 10 tenure-track faculty to 19 tenure-track faculty. One faculty member is employed at Stark Campus. The number of Ph.D. students also grew from about 12 to 45.

But now the money is gone, and computer science funding will come from the College of Arts and Sciences Responsibility Center Management budget.

RCM will be in full swing starting fiscal year 2010. The university will be broken down into units as far as departments. The departments will receive money from students’ tuition and the classes that students take within the department. Faculty and staff will then be paid from this income as well as tuition for graduate assistantships.

Once each department is paid, the university will take around 43 percent in taxes from the college, which will pay for resources such as the library, bursar’s office and student center.

Shannon Steinfadt, Ph.D. candidate for computer science at Kent State, is noticing the effect of Responsibility Center Management.

“The sciences – all sciences – will be negatively and adversely impacted,” she said. “They have higher operating expenses and enrollment per course. This is necessarily low to accommodate students in lab situations.

“This is just as true in computer science where equipment, electric and cooling costs are just part of the budgetary constraints.”

Steinfadt further concluded that the university will be focusing on admissions into the school rather than the school work itself.

“The university is forcing a dollar-to-dollar justification of how many students the department pushes through its courses to the funding it receives from the university,” Steinfadt said. “Again, this will leave less time and focus on research. Eventually, the research status will drop so low that it will not attract competitive researchers or graduate students.”

Despite the new budget planning, Walker is continuing to stay positive and thinking about the benefits that the departments have earned.

“The program is still here,” Walker said. “Jobs are still out there at the moment; we’re just shifting to another budget program.”

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Kaylee Remington at [email protected]u.