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Budget cuts eliminate 24.5 faculty lines, nine degrees

Chancellor Doug Kristensen discusses eliminated degrees. Photo by Jenna Heinz / Antelope Staff

In response to the University’s $4.3 million shortfall, UNK announced an elimination of 24.5 faculty lines and nine degree programs. Students, faculty, staff and community members gathered to hear the cuts at a forum on Nov. 20.

One of those students in attendance was Laura Rozema, senior theatre and English major, who organized a protest against the cuts in October.

Rozema said her heart sank when hearing about the programs that would be discontinued.

“I knew cuts had to be made, but after seeing the Faculty Advisory Committee’s recommendations, I had hopes that some restructuring and minor cuts would be enough,” Rozema said. “Realizing the entire theatre department was being cut was so saddening. We all felt immense disappointment in the administration’s decision.”

Along with the theatre degree, other degrees set to be discontinued, pending approval from the Board of Regents, include:

  • Business Intelligence Emphasis BS
  • Geography BA and BS
  • Geography and GIScience BS
  • Geography 7-12 Teaching Subject Endorsement BA
  • Recreation, Outdoor and Event Management BS
  • Recreation Management BS
  • Musical Theatre Comprehensive BM

The end of the forum was open to questions from attendees. When handed the microphone, Rozema said she was disappointed to have not felt more support from administrators.

By making a statement at the forum, Rozema said it was necessary that the administration knows how students feel.

“It’s important to stand up for what you believe in and remain passionate and proactive regarding what you love,” Rozema said. “Even though we realized our fight for the theatre department was likely lost, we weren’t going to give up our passion or opinions.”

Of the faculty positions being eliminated, Chancellor Doug Kristensen said over half are open lines. Those to be cut include:

  • Theater: 4
  • English: 3.5
  • Music: 3
  • Math and Statistics, Modern Languages, Cyber Systems and Communication: 2 each
  • Philosophy, Physics and Astronomy, Art and Design, Kinesiology and Sports Sciences, History and Montessori Early Childhood: 1 each

Personnel will be notified in May, and all faculty will have at least one year before their position is up.

Also during the question and answer session, one professor in the room told students that they matter.

Sharon Campbell, chair of the music, theatre and dance department, said she was sitting behind a group of theatre students who were visibly upset. She spoke up because she wanted to add compassion to the room.

“I wasn’t very happy with the lack of acknowledgment in the forum of how painful the cut to the theatre program is to the students who are invested in it,” Campbell said. “I could see kind of every other sentence hitting them hard. I care very deeply about them and I just wanted to change the messaging in the room and acknowledge the human face to the budget cuts.”

The recommendations will be sent to the university system’s president’s office by Dec. 1.

“We’re going to get through this,” Kristensen said. “This is not the end of UNK. We’re not going to go put a for sale sign up.”

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Jenna Heinz
Jenna Heinz, Reporter
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