Academic college may dissolve due to budget cuts

Facing $2.5 million in budget cuts, Murray State has been looking for areas to trim down on spending and has proposed dissolving the College of Health Sciences and Human Services.

The Academic Council met Thursday afternoon and came to a unanimous decision to collapse the College of Health Sciences and Human Services by moving the existing departments to other appropriate colleges.

The college, which has grown in enrollment 46 percent since 2009, according to the 2013 registrar’s report, may see faculty members divided among multiple colleges and students relocated.

Roger Weis, assistant dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services, said the dissolving of the college was unexpected and believes that the college should not be punished due to its successes.

“All the programs within this college are growing,” Weis said. “To have it in one college where we all can connect and communicate with each other is wonderful. It’s at a peak of success and they’re punishing success. It’s a contradiction to what they should be doing.”

That success, Weis believes, is key to keeping enrollment for Murray State up, and faculty in the college have proposed alternative ways in cutting the budget other than dissolving the college entirely.

Such ways include reviewing teaching loads to minimize the use of adjuncts to help the University save almost $1 million annually, increaseing the number of online classes wherever possible, identifying underperforming colleges and minimizing the number of colleges offering the same courses.

Weis said he believes there is no reason to choose to cut the College of Health Sciences and Human Services.

“To me there is no valid reason to choose any college,” he said. “If the School of Nursing joined us or we joined them, we would grow in numbers and we wouldn’t have to spread out like we are.”

This spread of the faculty members have professors going to different colleges across campus and the dissolving of the college would lead to a 15 percent reduction in pay of Dean Susan Muller and a $6,000 pay reduction for Weis.

While the University would save money, Weis said faculty members would still have to be paid, since none will be terminated due to the budget cuts.

Weis said he has informed his students of the proposed dissolving of the college, and students have expressed confusion over the matter.

“Students were concerned, and they’re asking what’s going to happen with this,” Weis said. “They were asking ‘Why? Why is this happening to us?’”

If the proposal of the cuts passes in early March, students will be relocated to different places depending on major.

“They’re going to be in a different environment,” Weis said “It won’t have that same collaborative feeling. We’re not going to be able to give them the same sound and direct attention that we have been able to do in a college that was designed just for us. Now it’s like we’re second rate, in a way. It’s like we’re not important enough to be our own college.”

The college has seen a 24 percent jump in credit hours since 2009, which is second only behind the Hutson School of Agriculture.

Student Regent Jeremiah Johnson said there haven’t been any final decisions regarding the College of Health Sciences and Human Services.

While the decision hasn’t been officially been made, the college has requested for the University to wait until the new president has been chosen and to remain open to other options.

Said Weis: “You’re supposed to reward success, not punish it.”


Story by Mary Bradley, staff writer