Emily Walkenhorst reports in detail in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on UA Little Rock Chancellor Christina Drale’s “retrenchment” proposal to cut staff and programs to cope with a budget shortfall from declining enrollment.
Things that jumped out at me as a devotee of a liberal arts education were, among others, cuts in fine arts, history, political science and mass communications and a cut to a single foreign language, Spanish. Said the article:
In the 13-page proposal, Drale emphasized maintaining a “liberal arts core” while also aligning professional and research programs with local, regional and statewide demand.
“Our institution’s priorities are based on its role and scope as a public four-year metropolitan university offering a comprehensive curriculum through the doctoral level and maintaining a research portfolio at the Carnegie Research-2 level,” she wrote.
Faculty has some differences with some of the specifics, the article indicates.
The campus is in a tough spot. Its stature is critical to the health of Little Rock. I hope for the best. But I fear that cuts in comprehensive offerings could create a downward dynamic.
Dark humor: I guess that football idea is now permanently shelved. And the marching band, too.
I’ll update you with a copy of the report when I receive it.
And here’s a chart the chancellor provided.
The chancellor sent this to staff:
Dear Campus Community,
As many of you know, we initiated an academic planning retrenchment process in January in order to address a significant budget shortfall over the next few years. The process included a series of stakeholder focus group sessions, a review of academic programs by the Provost-appointed Academic Planning Team and the Faculty Senate-appointed Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Academic Planning Retrenchment Committee, and general commentary by individuals throughout the process. The Academic Planning Team and the Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Committee submitted their recommendations to me on March 20 and made those recommendations available to the campus community.
Today, March 30, is the scheduled release date of my retrenchment proposal. It is attached to this email in two documents: 1) the retrenchment proposal narrative, and 2) a table of all academic programs with my proposed academic planning status for each. Throughout the month of April, this proposal will go through a formal comment period with the following schedule:
March 30 – April 3. Program Faculty, School Director or Department ChairpersonApril 6 – 10 College Faculty, College or School/Department Curriculum Committee, DeanApril 15 – 20 Undergraduate Council, Graduate CouncilApril 24 – 27 Faculty SenateApril 29 Provost
On April 30, all recommendations will come back to me for review and I will write my final proposal. I will then forward that proposal with all recommendations from the formal review process to UA System President Donald Bobbitt for his consideration. Dr. Bobbitt will present the results of the campus process and make his own recommendation to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees will then vote whether to approve the retrenchment plan as presented.
On a personal note, I certainly understand that the retrenchment process is traumatic for any campus to undergo and I don’t take this lightly. This will likely be the most difficult thing this campus ever does. Some may be wondering why we don’t hold off until the added trauma of the Coronavirus has subsided. Believe me, I wish we had that option. However, if we don’t maintain our original schedule, we won’t be able to include the results in our FY21 budget, and that would cause significant damage to the long-term health of our institution. I think we all understand that we have very difficult choices to make. We need to proceed with making them. I will continue to welcome your counsel as we carry out the rest of this process.