Departments starting to plan after end of impasse

AJ Fournier, Campus Reporter

Despite taking multiple hits as a result of the recently ended budget impasse, directors of departments around campus are cautiously optimistic now that a budget has been passed.

Douglas Klarup, interim dean of the College of Sciences, said cuts and spending freezes affected his college’s equipment maintenance, replacement and some of the programs for faculty research.

“Ultimately that sort of builds up,” Klarup said.

Every department in the College of Sciences was affected, but the departments that used the most equipment felt the cuts more intensely.

Because of faculty cuts, many had to change how they taught.

“Departures have created curricular holes other people have needed to fill,” Klarup said.

When Eastern received a stopgap budget back in July 2016, the university was able to hire back some of the staff members who were laid off.

Now that a complete budget has been passed, Klarup said the College of Sciences has been able to begin planning on filling the gaps that have developed over the last two years.

Austin Cheney, chair of the School of Technology, said because of the budget impasse some Unit B employees had to be let go.

Like in the College of Sciences, funding for travel was also affected in the School of Technology.

“It caused more of a challenge to get students to national competitions and get them engaged in their professions, whether through student competitions or field trips or conferences,” Cheney said.

Cheney said the School of Technology has been relying on donations to cover travel for the last two years, but with the budget passed this past July, the school has started to plan for future decisions.

However, nothing will be confirmed until the money is received.

Anita Shelton, the interim dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, said when the impasse happened, it caused a backlog of maintenance, replacements in technology and layoffs.

“In a department like music, we have hundreds of instruments that have to be maintained and protected and tuned,” Shelton said. “When we don’t have the staff to do all of that, it can endanger what we even do have.”

Shelton said staff had to take on multiple responsibilities, and some jobs that required three people fell on one person.

“All over campus, from the grounds staff to the building service workers, it has all been reduced and people have to do more,” Shelton said.

Shelton said that some courses were not offered because there were not enough faculty members to offer the courses.

“Last spring we did purge the catalog of some of the courses that had not been offered for a couple of years, and we couldn’t realistically hope to offer them in a couple of years,” Shelton said.

Shelton said with the budget passed in July, they are beginning to be able to plan ahead. Next week, she is planning to meet with the program manager of the College of Arts and Humanities to do so.

AJ Fournier can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].