Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert Koob recently cut each college’s budget by 2.5 percent, which resulted in fewer lecturers hired and fewer course sections offered.
“I’ve met (the budget reduction) by not filling two positions and using some funding that I’ve carried over from the previous year,” said David Wehner, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. “Each college probably has a different approach for giving up that 2.5 percent of our budget.”
As a result, the College of Liberal Arts is monitoring spending on travel, office supplies and operating expenses. Course offerings in the winter and spring will also be reduced to lessen the need for lecturers.
“The faculty most affected are our part-time lecturers,” said Debra Valencia-Laver, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “They aren’t getting the same level of assignments as they have in the years passed. We all wish there was more money to go around and more teaching. We know that this is hard.”
Since Cal Poly accepted almost 1,000 fewer students this year between freshmen and transfer students, there will be less demand for classes, which will also affect the number of sections taught by lecturers.
“When we accept fewer students at Cal Poly because the budget has gone down, we know that we are going to affect the lives of some very good people,” said Dave Christy, dean of the Orfalea College of Business.
The university has two categories of faculty: tenured and tenure-track faculty that have a permanent positions, and lecturers, who are temporary faculty. Faculty on permanent appointments would only be laid off if the overall university budget was cut significantly or if an entire program was removed.
Lecturers are hired when needed and have priority depending on seniority, but they do not have a guaranteed job. “We have hired fewer lecturers this year than we have in the past,” Christy said. “It’s because we have fewer students and less budget.”
Because of the cuts, fewer class sections will be offered. If a class is not completely filled, the university will cancel it and offer it a different quarter. Students will be informed of the cancellation and told to register again when it is offered.
“In better times, we might be able to run some of those smaller sections, but at this time, we have to be real tight about that,” Christy said. “At the end of the day, when we have budget cuts, we virtually have to reduce the number of classes we teach and make sure that they are fully enrolled.”
Cal Poly did not accept any transfer or freshmen students in the summer and does not intend to accept any transfer students in January.
“We don’t want to admit students and then not have the courses they need to graduate,” Christy said.
Each dean’s objective is to make sure students get through the curriculum and keep them moving at a steady pace toward their degree completion.
“In the end, if we don’t balance the budget, it just comes out of next year’s money,” Christy said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if many local governments in California have layoffs this year because there is not as much sales tax revenue. The question is when is the economy going to turn around and when is the budget in California going to be rectified?”