VPAA confirms department reorganization savings
The Eagle confirmed Wednesday, in a meeting with Vice President of Academic Affairs Charles Snare, that the fall 2018 department reorganization proposal reported last week will indeed save CSC $55,000 of the required $750,000 cut from the state.
In the April 20 edition, The Eagle reported on a department reorganization proposal that came from administration. Three reporters interviewed faculty and the three deans between March 14-19. The reporters were unable to interview Snare until Wednesday afternoon because he was spearheading the four-year preparation for the Higher Learning Commission peer review team visit, which occurred Monday and Tuesday.
The closed-door interview with Snare was in his third-floor office in Sparks Hall. Two of the three deans, Dean of the School of B.E.A.M.S.S. Joel Hyer and Dean of the School of E.H.P.C.P.S.W. James Powell, also attended. Dean of School of Liberal Arts James Margetts had a prior engagement and could not attend.
When The Eagle reporters asked to record the interview, Snare said, “I’m not interested in perpetuating a culture of ‘I gotcha.’”
Although, the reporters said their intent was to document an accurate record of the meeting and what was said, he declined to be recorded, saying recording creates a “gotcha culture.” He said people should develop relationships before seeking information.
Snare later expressed concerns about being quoted out of context.
He then shifted the discussion to HLC accreditation and questioned The Eagle’s news coverage, noting that the HLC accreditation and peer reviewers’ visit was critical to the college.
“So, did you write an article on the HLC visit?” Snare asked. “So help me understand this. HLC, which is critical for us, will have much more of an impact on students. Has there been an article on the HLC?”
The Eagle first reported on HLC in its Sept. 29, 2016, edition, again in the March 30 edition. A story about the HLC visit appears above.
About 20 minutes later, discussion about the reorganization began.
Snare clarified the reasoning behind the proposal. Midway through the academic year, CSC was obligated to cut its budget 4 percent, which meant $750,000, because of the state’s budget deficit. He said after various budget cuts across campus amounting to nearly $600,000, the academic departments were asked to save the remaining $160,000.
Snare said he anticipates a similar deficit for the 2017-18 school year. The state budget is released in June, so Snare said the reorganization proposal is a proactive approach.
In the April 18 interview with the deans, Margetts said the departmental reorganization proposal is estimated to save $55,000. Additional one-time reorganization costs might result in less savings the first year.
Snare said Wednesday that the majority of the reorganization savings would come from cutting departments—and in turn, department chairs—from 12 to six.
He said department chairs receive a stipend and beginning in fall, because of the faculty union’s negotiated agreement, release time.
Snare said that faculty and staff positions would be cut last due to anticipated budget shortfalls. He said there has been mention of cutting administrative position, including his, but that Chadron State already runs off a “lean” administrative staff compared to other institutions. Consequently, he said, other areas are being considered first.
But, he also said, “Everything is on the table.”
Snare said that higher education across the nation is expected to do “a lot more with a lot less” at this point in time.
The first reorganization proposal Snare and the deans created condensed departments from 12 to nine. Snare said after meeting with faculty it was apparent that condensing from 12 to six departments was more beneficial. He said although there has been some opposition, feedback from faculty has been generally positive.
In the decision process, Snare said he questioned, “Where can we get synergies that will be most productive right away?” The answer resulted in the latest proposal.
Snare said because of how integrated the world is today, you could arrange about any disciplines together but he said he believes this arrangement will help foster a “collaborative culture.”
The reorganization, originally set for fall 2017, will be implemented in fall 2018 as a result of faculty feedback. Snare said there were downsides to both of the start dates. It seemed additional planning was needed, so it would have been rushed to implement the plan this fall.
However, Snare also said waiting an additional year means departments will have to save the money in other ways for the 2017-18 academic year.
As part of CSC’s “collaborative culture,” Snare said faculty has stepped up and made cuts and next school year similar actions will be necessary.
Snare addressed the importance of fulfilling MAP priorities regarding faculty and student retention. He said the reorganization will uphold those priorities. Snare also said the reorganization will not change students’ degrees or have an effect on the HLC accreditation.