In the latest preparation considerations for proposed budget cuts, administrators are discussing eliminating the College of Fine Arts and Communication and dividing the programs among other colleges.
The Division of Communication would be absorbed by the College of Professional Studies, but remain its own entity. The Departments of Art & Design, Music and Theatre & Dance would be redistributed to the College of Letters and Science. It is unclear where the Aber Suzuki Center would be placed.
Administrators estimate savings would amount to about $290,000 in base budget dollars, mainly due to the elimination of the dean and his staff.
“It’s important to remember that this is an initial idea,” said Jeff Morin, COFAC dean. “I do think this will become an issue for recruiting students and how they would view the programs if they were separated.”
The college, ranked in the top 7 percent nationally, attracts students from all over the country as well as generous donors due to its regional and national recognition.
“If 10 students decided not to choose UWSP because of this, that would be $520,000 lost in tuition,” Morin said. “This would cost more than it would save.”
Chancellor Bernie Patterson said administrative reductions could be an alternative to faculty and staff cuts, as well.
“There are other models that are prevalent where it is not uncommon for the arts to be housed in the letters and sciences, which is the way it is in Madison,” Patterson said.
UW-Madison is, for the first time in several decades, considering adding a new college, the College of the Arts, to provide greater focused support for the arts.
Patterson said the differences in a college, school and department and how they are organized is likely less clear to a prospective student.
“Students who study the arts come because of the program and particularly because of the faculty,” Patterson said. “None of that would change. The goal is to preserve all the arts programs as they currently are.”
Communication Professor Chris Sadler said this is not the first time a move like this has been considered.
“It’s been on the table before, but there is question as to how much money it would actually save,” Sadler said.
Senior Jeanna Diedrich is glad to see the university keeping programs and artistic classes, but worries about future generations of students.
“When there is a specific college, the programs have more meaning,” she said.
Freshman art major Jamie Weinfurter said it would be disappointing for the programs to be absorbed.
“The arts have their own community on campus,” Weinfurter said. “I would like to stay here but might have to reconsider if this went through.”
Despite impending cuts and fewer instructors, fall enrollment is up from last year, making up some lost funds.
“At this point, freshman deposits are up about 25 percent from last year,” said Jim Barrett, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management.
He said this is likely due to an improved recruitment process involving one-on-one contact with students and additional recruiters. It may also be due to the fact that this year, all public high school seniors must take the ACT.
“If you look across the UW System, overall applications have increased as well,” he said.
On the other side, incoming transfer students are down by 6 percent from last year. Barrett attributes that to competition from other UW schools.
News & Environment Editor