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Hard budget call: Mills CARES cut

Mills CARES only staff position will be cut to half-time on Oct. 31, the effects of which will be detrimental to the work the center produces, officials said.

“Due to budgeting constraints, we have cut the position to half-time FTE (full-time equivalent),” said interim provost John Brabson. “We value the work of [Mills] CARES and want to provide that to the students.”

Mills CARES provides support for students and faculty service learning programs, in addition to occasional community projects such as the alternative spring break and Halloween in Olney, said Leslie Townsend, service learning program director. “We are making connections and improving communication in this office.”

According to Townsend, Brabson told her two days before the semester began that the position was going to be half-time

“It’s disappointing to see it [the position] cut when clearly we are meeting a need,” Townsend said. “I think it’s part of the retention issue, students need to feel connected to the campus and to the neighborhood.”

Townsend’s job as the director of service learning requires her to fund raise funds from outside sources, coordinate projects, support the eight students working in the office, in addition to the general office work that needs to be taken care of in terms of mailings, filings, and answering phones, she explained.

“It is barely doable to get everything done with only one full time staff,” said student program coordinator Mica Miro. “I’m sad and concerned for the college because in the last couple of years I’ve seen the program help build community on Mills as well as connecting Mills to the outside community.”

In order to keep her full time position, Townsend said she has to work on fund raising enough money to stay until the semester’s end and possibly through second semester.

The college does support Mills CARES funding her position, Brabson said.

Townsend said that it would be a more successful endeavor for Mills CARES to fund her position full-time than for her to work part-time at Mills.

The loss of hours may affect Townsend in other ways.”I may have to move out of my house,” she said. “I have a great mix of neighbors.”