Humboldt State students from College of Natural Resources and Sciences, or CNRS, gathered for a talk on Thursday, March 8 to address the CNRS budget crisis. The talk was facilitated by Stephany Salgado, a biology major. Both the interim dean, Steve Smith, and associate dean of CNRS, Rick Zechman, attended the talk.
“I want to make sure CNRS is getting the students involved,” Salgado said.
The CNRS is facing $2 million in budget cuts and students are concerned their fall 2018 semester classes will be cut.
Smith is filling the position that Richard Boone held until March 5. Smith was the dean of CNRS between 2010-2016. Being back from retirement for only two days prior to this talk, Smith revealed some ideas of possible solutions to the CNRS budget deficit. Smith mentioned possible changes, but would not go into any specific details.
Smith explained how the department spending works and, how in the past, the reserve would take care of expenditures exceeding the budget. There is currently little reserve funds and the CNRS department spending is required to stay within the budget.
“For a long time, the university has been deficit spending and we have to turn that around,” Smith said.
Smith expressed the most important factor of all is to meet the students’ academic unit demand.
“We are going to meet the academic demand for student courses. What might change is who is teaching the course,” Smith said.
Smith did not go into details about allocating teaching modes.
Smith assured the students the same courses will be available this fall, but he doesn’t know when or if he can solve all of the budget deficit problems.
“This is the short version of a very complicated problem,” Smith said.
A student asked Smith if professors could teach more and spend less time on research. Smith responded that it would be up to the tenure-line faculty.
Smith also reminded students that professors belong to a labor union that directs their hours, and that tenure-line faculty are expected to do research.
A student asked if graduate student programs will be adversely affected.
“Graduate funding will increase, if anything,” Smith said.
Another student asked about a fall class that is listed as unavailable. Smith assured the student that will change before registration. He also assured that all classes will appear on the schedule for registration.
One student asked about reductions in programs. Smith didn’t think there would be reductions.
“I don’t see anything along the lines of downsizing, probably elimination,” Smith said. “I don’t see that in the cards. Please don’t rush out and say we are going to cut programs.”
Zechman pressed on the importance of having students’ degree audit reports, or DARS, planned out for three semesters ahead of time.
“It is critically important to have your DARS planned out for three semesters ahead so CNRS knows how many seats it needs to offer for that class,” Zechman said.
President Lisa Rossbacher reassures students the administration is working to guarantee them the classes they need to graduate.
“We are doing everything possible to make sure students get the classes they need to make progress towards graduation and graduating on time,” Rossbacher said. “We still have one of the best science departments in the country with our natural resources and outdoor labs.”