RCM leaves colleges uncertain

Regina Garcia Cano

Deans brace for cuts due

The university’s new budget model could mean larger classes, fewer faculty and fewer class sections.

On July 1, the university will begin running under Responsibility Center Management, a system that gives every college power over its own revenue and expenses.

With this model, each college’s revenue will depend on recruiting, retention and state funding. Less enrollment will mean less revenue and vice versa.

“As we began to do that model, we found out that many colleges had been living beyond their needs and were spending significantly more than what they brought into the university,” Provost Robert Frank said. “As a consequence, those deans had begun to take steps to try to balance the budgets within those units.”

Most deans agreed and said they are uncertain about the financial situation of their colleges for the next year, mainly because the state has not decided the funding they will receive. But many are bracing for cuts.

“If we need to cut, we will look at part-time faculty first,” said Dan Mahony, dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Services. “If enrollment declines, we will have to reduce faculty. There is again an impact between enrollment and how much money impacts the resources we have.”

The College of Education, Health and Human Services recently gave out one non-renewal contract letter to a non-tenure track faculty member. The College of Arts and Sciences gave out two.

Frank said the non-renewal letters are not related to the state funding, but to RCM.

All deans said they have begun making cuts in minor expenditures such as travel or office supplies.

The following are some of the actions each college is taking to adapt to the model.

The figures for each college correspond the surplus or deficit it would have faced if the university had been running under RCM during the 2008 fiscal year. The office of the vice president for finance and administration provided the projections.

College of Architecture

$466,671 positive

James Dalton, dean of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, wrote in an e-mail his college expects a budget surplus. He said this would allow the college to reduce the size of specialized or technical classes to help meet the courses’ goals.

College of the Arts

$1,168,258 negative

John Crawford, dean of the College of the Arts, wrote in an e-mail some classes the college offers, such as Liberal Education Requirements, may increase their size. However, he said increasing the size of classes that are studio-based would have to be “carefully considered” because students need individualized attention.

College of Arts and Sciences

$197,560 negative

The College of Arts and Sciences recently gave two non-tenure-track faculty members from the computer science department letters of non-renewal contract. Those faculty members will not be teaching during the fall semester.

“They were in a department that has precipitous declines on enrollment, and we were simply not able to offer them continued employment,” said Tim Moerland, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “But that would have happened regardless of RCM.”

Moerland said he is uncertain whether any other departments will have to give out more non-renewal contract notices because the college has not finalized its budget evaluation.

However, he said the college had to reduce the amount of tenure-track faculty it was expecting to hire for next semester.

“Students might see fewer sections (and) sections with more students in them,” Moerland said. “The timing may not be as convenient, but we are going to do everything we can possible to make sure that the overall quality of what we’re able to offer academically is strong and meet the needs of people.

“Convenience is going to be nipped at the edges.”

College of Business

$1,032,489 positive

Yank Heisler, dean of the College of Business Administration, said at the moment his college has not decided to lay off faculty members, but it is still waiting to see the effects of the state decisions on the budget for higher education.

He said in case of budget constraints some faculty members would have to teach other classes, but they will be similar to their field of expertise.

College of Communication and Information

$1,078,456 positive

Jeff Fruit, interim dean of the College of Communication and Information, said under this model, he is trying to engage faculty members to take part in the financial decisions of the college.

Fruit said under RCM, faculty need to be used more effectively, but he does not anticipate any layoffs.

He said he expects a budget surplus for the college.

College of Education Health and Human Services

$133,041 positive

One non-tenure-track faculty member of the College of Education Health and Human Services received a non-renewal contract letter for fall semester.

Mahony said he does not expect to cut more faculty members, but he said the college will have to be more thoughtful about determining how many sections of a class are needed.

“If there is a low number of students, we will shut down some sections,” Mahony said. “If we do make changes, we will set up a three- or four-year plan listing when classes will be offered to keep students informed.”

College of Nursing

$1,212,974 negative

Laura Dzurec, dean of the College of Nursing, said because of the increasing interest in the nursing field, the college has planned to hire more faculty members.

She said despite the shortage of nursing faculty around the world, Kent State’s program has been able to increase its enrollment.

To keep up with its expenses, the College of Nursing is expecting to receive two grants. These will fund student scholarships and simulation labs.

College of Technology

$131,865 negative

Verna Fitzsimmons, interim dean of the College of Technology, said the college is not anticipating faculty cuts because it has been operating under an internal RCM model.

Fitzsimmons said because most of the faculty members within the college have a business background, she doesn’t expect the model to greatly affect the faculty or students.

Contact academics reporter Regina Garcia Cano at [email protected].