Cutting classes

Photo illustration by Bryan Cole / The Collegian
As Fresno State faces further economic strife, university forced to decide where to cut back

For the lucky seniors that will be graduating this May, university budget cuts and proposed class reductions are probably the furthest thing from their minds.

But for the students that will continue on in the fall, worry seems to be anything but a stranger.

With Welty’s recent statement of Fresno State facing an $8.8 million deficit, and the announcement of possibly increasing student fees by 10 percent, students could be wondering if the classes they need will even be available in the fall.

In a recent interview with the Fresno Bee, Welty spoke not of cutting essential classes students need to graduate, but rather of eliminating those classes, a proposed 100 or so, that show low-enrollment and thereby increasing other class sizes.

Andrew Rogerson, dean for the college of science and mathematics, agreed with Welty when it came to the classes in his own school.

“Not much will change during the fall semester,” Rogerson said. “We will continue to cut low-enrollment elective classes, but don’t expect any impact…on required courses.”

Dr. Fraka Harmsen, associate dean for the college of science and mathematics, said that even though required classes won’t see a change, new students may have something to worry about.

“The major impact will be in general education, where we will no longer open extra class sections to meet the high demand,” Harmsen said.

The great unknown

Rogerson said that while these changes will be made, none of them will impact any students’ graduation and if an elective is cut, students will have other choices.

Harmsen said that even though the hope is to keep classes intact for students, nobody can predict the future and what will happen with university budgets.

“The situation is somewhat fluid,” Harmsen said. “We do not know the full extent of potential fiscal reductions, but are planning to minimize the impact on students to the full extent possible.”

For some of the other colleges however, classes may not be so easy to keep.

Bob Harper, the interim dean for the Craig School of Business, said that because the business department does their own scheduling, the exact number of classes that will be cut is unknown.

“We are looking for improved efficiency, by offering one less section from most of our required multi-section business courses [pre-business and core courses] and by compressing traditionally low enrollment classes,” Harper said.

“We are trying to accommodate students’ need for courses as best as we can with constrained resources.”

Fewer full-time students allowed to enroll

While the main problem for most of the colleges seems to be budget cuts, Kremen School of Education’s dean, Paul Beare, says their problem lies mostly in the freeze on full-time enrollment students, or FTES.

“My school was over by 115 for the year, so we will be accepting fewer graduate students and making sure we do not exceed our target, which will be approximately 1,245 annualized FTES.”

According to Fresno State’s Fall 2008–09 Enrollment Update, the full-time enrollment headcount for 2008 was 19,381 — 533 more students than their original target of 18,848.

Reviewing these numbers, Fresno State’s plan for fall 2009, continuing into 2010, is going to see quite a change.

According to the same document, Fresno State, in order to get enrollment back on track, will no longer be accepting lower division transfers and will also no longer allow students to receive a second bachelor’s degree.

Engineering bucks the trend

While the issue for the university may be high enrollment and budget cuts, the dean for the Lyles College of Engineering, Michael Jenkins, said that things in his college aren’t looking so dismal.

Along with Jenkins’ plan to keep all courses for the fall semester, he also said that there will be no delay to graduation and anticipates being able to accommodate all of the students that enroll.

“All programs in the Lyles College of Engineering have scheduled all the required courses and electives that students need,” Jenkins said.

“We also expect to accommodate all the students that are enrolled in our six programs.”

According to the associate dean, Ramakrishna Nunna, beyond keeping all required classes for the students, the college is also in the process of hiring three new, full-time members to its faculty.

While things seem to be on rocky ground for the university, the various colleges on campus seem to agree that students don’t seem to have a reason to worry about getting their classes — yet.

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