Brandeis University unveiled a series of cost-cutting proposals this afternoon that would eliminate about two dozen faculty positions, several undergraduate majors and graduate programs, and more than a dozen university-sponsored doctoral spots.
The move, which the provost is expected to approve in coming weeks, was prompted by the economic downturn that has cut into donations to the university, its endowment performance, as well as increased the need for student financial aid, Adam Jaffe, dean of arts and sciences at the Waltham college, said in a phone interview today.
The cuts, to be carried out over a number of years, would eventually save the university $3.8 million a year, Jaffe said.
“Like all universities, we’re looking towards the future and trying to position ourselves,” he said.
The cuts come on the heels of last year’s controversial decision by President Jehuda Reinharz to close the Rose Art Museum, a public relations nightmare that led to a public outcry and an apology and backtracking by Reinharz.
The proposal, made by a 23-member committee of faculty, staff and students, recommends major departmental reorganizations that would affect the college's sciences, theater, American studies, anthropology, literature, and cultural offerings, among others.
“While these proposals represent diminution of some important aspects of our mission, these changes will, in the aggregate, make us more financially viable, better able to deliver the curriculum we remain committed to and more flexible in responding to new demands and opportunities,” a report outlining the cuts said.
The report recommends cutting 17 tenured faculty positions through attrition, which can take decades depending on when professors leave or retired. In addition, another six professors on temporary contracts would be laid off.
While no departments are being eliminated, Jaffe said the committee has recommended phasing out graduate degrees in anthropology, theater design and cultural production, a two-year interdisciplinary program introduced just a few years ago.
Undergraduates will no longer be able to major in Italian studies and Hebrew, or minor in Yiddish, East European Jewish culture, and Internet studies. Those courses may still be offered but less frequently, Jaffe said.
Those reductions would take place over the next year to eight years, depending on when existing students complete their programs, he said.
Today's announcement drew swift criticism from affected departments.
"The assault on the theater department is a further marginalization of the arts and a continuation of the same policies that produced the Rose Art Museum crisis," Debra Booth, director of design in Brandeis' theater arts department, wrote in a letter urging alumni support.
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