If you watched from afar, it almost looked like a pep rally formed outside the Student Union Monday, but the students gathered had nothing to be happy about – their majors were on the chopping block.
“When you have issues or something wrong with your heart, your lungs, we are the people you need to see,” shouted an unidentified Cardiopulmonary Sciences student, whose degree program may soon disappear.
For the faculty, the prospect of having degree programs they teach cut was worse. Their education isn’t on the line – instead it’s their ability to feed their families.
After a few speeches and songs, the large crowd moved inside the Student Union to try and convince a Board of Trustees committee meeting to vote against recommending a proposal to cut Cardiopulmonary Sciences, Management Information Systems, Engineering Technologies and Radiological Sciences.
Part of the proposal also includes “suspending” the Actuarial Sciences program.
The committee ultimately voted to recommend the cuts to the full board of trustees which will make a final vote later this month. The only trustee to vote against the cuts was SGA President Brian Peterson, the only student member.
Since 2007, the state has slashed an estimated $77 million dollars from UCF’s budget, according to UCF officials. The administration feels the proposed cuts, which would shed $4.7 million from the budget and 37 employees, are necessary for the university to survive the economic crisis.
But Finance professor Jim Gilkeson with the faculty union says that’s not true.
“We know for a fact the numbers that the provost (Terry Hickey) and president (John Hitt) have been spouting off are incorrect, they’re actually overblown” Gilkeson said. “Not only are they overblown, but they fail to take into account increases in sources of income that have happened over the last several years.”
“The fact is they have more than $140 million in reserves available to spend. They’re bringing in way more money than they’re spending, even as we speak,” he added.
Board of Trustees Chairman Rick Walsh insisted the cuts are needed, and said as a proud alumnus who loves UCF, it was tough for him to vote to recommend the cuts.
“It’s painful, I think it’s one of those decisions you wish you never have to make, but it’s the hand we’ve been dealt,” he said.
Walsh suggested that the cuts may not be over yet.
“I have a concern we haven’t gone far enough … given the economic outlook,” Walsh said. “We may be facing these questions again in the next six to 12 to 18 months.”