Daily Egyptian

College of Mass Communication and Media Arts thins its budget

By Cory Ray, @coryray_DE

Budget cuts in College of Mass Communication and Media Arts are stretching the college further than its gone before.

The college experienced an $88,000 budget cut from the university — 1.6 percent of its overall budget.

The cuts come from a collection of sources that include not filling vacant staff positions for the year, not purchasing new equipment at the same rate and reducing on the spending of supplies, according to Dafna Lemish, dean of the College of Mass Communications and Media Arts.

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So far, MCMA has terminated one non-tenured track instructor in the School of Journalism.

MCMA has two vacant instructor positions: one tenured track position in the School of Journalism teaching advertising and one non-tenured track position in Department of Radio and Television in broadcast news. Lemish said she is trying to fill the latter because it is critical to class instruction.

Lemish said some positions and duties were distributed among current staff and said the reduction of some positions, such as a second administrative secretary, has led to an increase in office efficiency.  

While vacant positions were overlapped, no additional people were terminated. The positions were only distributed among others once someone left.

Examples of overlapped positions include combining the two associate dean positions, combining the recruitment and retention coordinator with the internship coordinator, and distributing the duties of the chief academic advisor among the three department advisors in the college. 

“Some [cuts] were actually a good move for the college because we just cut things that were unnecessary, or were a little bit more luxurious years ago when we had more money,” Lemish said. “Some of them are quite painful because lots of people are doing more than they did before without any additional compensation but just out of their commitment to the work of the college.”

Stephen Henry, a graduate student from Arlington, Texas, in communication studies, is worried about professors’ duties being spread thin.

“When we keep on asking people to do this work solely for the love of the work or solely for the benefit of the students, there’s a lot of potential that we might lose people that care very deeply,” Henry said. “I’m worried about us losing our fantastic instructors because they have to look out for themselves at their level.”

In the past, Lemish said the college always cut in other places to continue to afford purchasing new equipment at the same rate, but cannot continue to do that with the current cuts. She said the cuts have been a gradual decline in resources.

“It decreases our overall ability to have a productive learning environment and to have experience with multimedia production,” Henry said. “It’s really important for people going into the work force. You can’t just have a communications program that’s only teaching stuff in the textbooks. You have to have hands-on experience nowadays. The possibility of not having those is really scary for me as a student.”

MCMA does not receive the same amount of research grants that STEM colleges see, and MCMA cannot rely on outside as heavily as some other colleges when issues arise. Henry describes the situation as an ongoing struggle for the humanities because he and others worry about the durability of programs if more cuts are made.

“Compared to other institutions I’ve been at, or colleagues I have at other institutions, they have a confidence in the fact that they can funded to do research that might benefit the university,” Henry said. “We don’t quite have that same belief in our department right now because of the looming budget cuts.”

Cory Ray can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @coryray_DE 

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