Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Today is Paige's twenty-third birthday. Happy Birthday!

The head of the VT music department, John Husser, sent an e-mail out to all music majors today. Here's some excerpts:

This is to report to you on the status of the departments current situation. As you know, budget cuts are here and real. The College of Arts and Sciences was given their target reduction for the next two years, and the college then gave the department's their reductions. We were assigned a 10% reduction. This is different from department to department and this is what I was expecting we would be called to do. This amount has nothing to do with our "value" to the college or the university, only our ability to "pay back". This percentage amounts to us having to cut $150,000 from our budget as it was this year. The other departments I have talked to are being required to cut from 6-10%.

The "rules" for these cuts included:

    1. no firing of tenure-track professors
    2. no firing of continuing instructors
    3. no firing of full time staff members

This means in our department we had to draw our cuts from Dr. Polifrone's retirement, [an] already planned departure, [the jazz professor's] one year appointment, and [the choral director's] one year appointment. There are a number of complicated details about funding that I can not discuss because of confidentiality issues, but this is bottom line. This is not good news, and if you are in my MIDI class, you will have heard me ranting a few times over the past few weeks about politicians, and citizens who don't think they should have to pay taxes. We Virginian's are reaping the results of our past fantasy that we can have top 10 services, but pay taxes in the bottom 10.

I have had notes from a number of you and I wish I could tell you that you could do something about this situation. However, I think the reality is that the University is going to be short an enormous amount of money next year, and there is no way around it. If you wish to complain to someone above me, I report to the Dean of Arts and Sciences, he reports to the Provost, and he reports to the President who reports to the Board of Visitors. But, we get our E&G, (Education and General) funding from the legislature of the state of Virginia. And unfortunately, they do not have the needed money to keep the state running the same as it did this past year. This means either government services are cut, or taxes are raised.

If you would like more details about this situation, I would be happy to have a meeting with anyone, or everyone. I'll be upfront about this, and give you all the information I am allowed to disseminate. We are all in this together and the department will try to have this situation impact on your education as little as possible. Also, we will try to be sure everyone gets what they need to complete their academic programs.

Hopefully, this will be a short term problem. We are being asked to return money, not faculty positions. It could be worse.

I've already heard people who still attend Tech voice concerns over the long-term effect of these cuts on the program, as well as the qualifications (or lack thereof) of professors being assigned interim duties. I guess we'll see how things turn out in the future.

"What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin." - Mark Twain

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