ASMC hosted a forum with Interim Provost and Dean of Faculty John Brabson, Dean of Students Myrt Whitcomb for students at Caf‚ Suzie’s Lounge on Nov. 18 in an effort to clarify rumors concerning faculty layoffs and the future of the modern language and literature department.
Brabson met students in hopes of giving a clear understanding of the college’s economic future and plans for cuts.
Brabson said that he wanted to retain the greatest diversity of programs and that Mills will not be making the cuts in any one department and faculty will not be fired until after spring.
According to Brabson faculty who are on three-year contracts are candidates for layoffs. Several of modern languages and literatures faculty members are on three-year contracts.
Brabson said there were three groups of expenditures: financial aid, fixed operating costs and staffing. According to Brabson staffing is the only area administration has control over.
The modern languages and literature department is being considered, but no decisions have been made. All final decisions will be made in spring, said Brabson.
Brabson assured the students that cuts would not affect course offerings in the spring. Students voiced their worry concerning the potential deterioration of classes caused by a lack of teachers.
They were also upset with not having any concrete information or control over the situation.
“The fact that we are being forced to consider non-tenured faculty in modern languages and literature as expendable concerns me,” said ASMC Diversity Chair Isadora Conant.
Conant said that she was grateful that Brabson spent so much time meeting with students especially since there has been growing concern among the student body.
“The discussion eliminated rumors,” said Conant. “But it contributed to frustration because students are being told very clearly that their education might be jeopardized in order to solve budget problems.”
“I am happy there was a big turn out,” said ASMC president Michele Roberts. “I felt positive that students got to ask questions even if the answers weren’t completely satisfying.”
The school’s dire economic situation is a result of the troubled U.S. economy. The value of stock has decreased in the past year and the rate at which the endowment is being spent has continued to rise over the past three years.
Students at the meeting were eager to know how they could help the school in its time of crisis and suggested increased efforts in conserving electricity. In response to this suggestion Brabson said that for the first time in the college’s history, it will turn off all electricity in December.
“We’d love to find places [to cut] that don’t cause issues around the curriculum,” he said. However Brabson remains skeptical about the situation.