Departments Brace for Next Year's Funding Cuts

State Budget Cuts Force Some to Limit Course Offerings, Search for Funding Elsewhere

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In light of proposed state budget cuts to higher education for the coming school year, several academic departments at UC Berkeley are facing large funding cuts to both faculty and classes.

The state budget cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are expected to take away $30 million to $40 million from UC Berkeley's budget, said Teresa Costantinidis, campus assistant vice chancellor for budget.

While many departments will receive less funding if the state budget cuts pass, departments that employ a large number of lecturers and GSIs will have larger budget cuts than most.

One such department is the East Asian languages and cultures department, which expects to see cuts totalling about $300,000, said department chair Alan Tansman.

As a result, the number of students taking classes in the department will be reduced by at least 1,500, he said. Additionally, only students enrolled in the College of Letters and Science will be able to take classes in the department next year.

Forty percent of Japanese, 54 percent of Chinese and 66 percent of Korean language classes will also be cut next year, Tansman said. 13 lecturers in the department will not be rehired, he said.

"If it goes on like this there is a chance of the programs becoming second-rate," he said. "I feel extremely demoralized."

The English department is facing an even larger cut at $400,000 because its reading and composition classes are typically taught by GSIs, said department chair Ian Duncan.

To compensate for the reduced funding, Duncan is requesting that faculty members with research funds divert that money to the department's budget.

Students from all majors are now mobilizing to save the East Asian language classes. The Committee to Save Korean Studies at UC Berkeley has been meeting on a daily basis for more than a week to raise public awareness and plead with the administration to stop the cuts, said Christine Hong, a post-doctoral fellow who helped establish the group.

"There has been a huge undergraduate base that has been mobilized," Hong said.

She added that despite its name, the group is fighting against cuts to other language programs as well.

Although the governor is expected to clarify the extent of the state cuts later this month, the campus administration has told departments to reduce spending, Costantinidis said.

"We were asked to be cautious with funds," she said.

She said Chancellor Robert Birgeneau is contacting different campus officials to explore ways to reduce expenditures with minimum damage to the campus.

Campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore added in an e-mail that "the situation remains fluid."

Despite the drastic cuts in the East Asian department, some departments, including history of art, will not be as greatly affected. In its case, funding for permanent and non-permanent faculty salaries comes from different sections of its budget.

Patricia Berger, chair of the history of art department, said that her department will only lose several thousands of dollars in funding next year because lecturers are not fully employed.

"It's completely serendipitous that we had this happen," she said. "We don't hire lecturers."

Despite the large reduction in classes for some departments, Tansman said student mobilization and efforts have been inspirational.

"Considering how busy students are, it is impressive and moving they are doing this," he said.


Contact Asaf Shalev at [email protected]

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