State university faculty, degree programs on chopping block

College money

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: The people who keep track of these kinds of things say state budget deficits are going to hit a collective $190 billion this year. Almost as much next year.

'Til now, public university systems have largely been protected from the worst of the cuts. Federal stimulus money filled in the gaps. That boost is running out, though. So states are putting faculty jobs and entire degree programs on the list of things to get rid of.

Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman reports.


Marching band playing

Mitchell Hartman: That's the Louisiana State fight song. LSU's faculty may need it, with the university facing budget cuts up to 32 percent next year.

English professor Kevin Cope chairs the faculty senate.

Kevin Cope: These cuts would result in the closure of the equivalent of seven colleges --- nearly half the effort of the state's major research university.

Donald Heller of the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Penn State says many public universities are evaluating programs with low enrollment or graduation rates. Some will be eliminated.

Donald Heller: There's only so much money you can save not filling open positions or by buying photocopy paper more effectively or by turning down thermostats. At some point, you have to look at those core functions and that means looking at specific programs and whether you can continue to justify to offer them.

Kevin Cope at LSU worries that liberal arts subjects will suffer the most from budget cuts.

Cope: Our business school is undertaking initiative in Brazil, and yet we're witnessing the dismantling of Portuguese. So it's hard to see how we're going to support these more practical and vocational-oriented programs.

And with such deep budget cuts coming, most degree programs are now under the microscope.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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