Effects of CAS budget cut can still be felt a year later, but we’re still kicking
It has been almost a year since the UW-River Falls College of Arts and Sciences had to suddenly cut nearly $1.5 million from its budget, and we’re still feeling the impact.
In the wake of the budget cut, course sizes were increased, instructional academic staff faced contracts that were not renewed and some faculty resigned or retired early to save their departments.
Ultimately, a lot of the courses were saved, and departments that were feared to be cut entirely were able to remain in part through other methods. Courses in Chinese, for example, are being taught through UW-Eau Claire and have not been eliminated entirely.
Still, the change is noticeable to those who have been attending UWRF for a few years. Some students who are now nearing graduation have been eyeing up electives to take once all of their requirements were finished, only to find that those courses are no longer offered. The literature courses offered through English, for example, are now limited as faculty and adjuncts have had to focus on staffing general education sections. Other students are taking general education courses as electives just to fill the 120 credit requirement and finding larger class sizes than they’ve ever seen at UWRF.
That being said, we do have many professors who deserve recognition for persevering through these difficult financial times in higher education. Two professors, Jennifer Willis-Rivera and Grace Coggio, are carrying the bulk of the courses offered in Communication Studies above the general education speech class level. Stage and Screen Arts Chair Robin Murray fought hard to make a timely and interesting special topics course available this semester, a class that focuses entirely on the hit musical “Hamilton.”
These are just a few examples of the fantastic things being done by the educators on our campus, and it’s important for us to realize that they do genuinely care. They are working so hard to make sure that we can still receive the education we deserve, despite the UW System’s budgetary struggles. While we may worry that no one cares about the arts, that’s clearly not the case here.
Yes, times are hard. We’re seeing the changes across the entire state, not just within the College of Arts and Sciences or at UWRF alone. However, things are not looking nearly as grim as they were when we returned from spring break last year, and we have a lot of dedicated people to thank for that.