Humanities and Fine Arts budget faces reform after million dollar deficit

Timothy Sistrunk

Timothy Sistrunk

Seven Chico State college departments were recently cut. Finalized in the 2017-18 Budget Plan released earlier this month, but none as much as the Humanities and Fine Arts Department (HFA).

Due to declining amounts of HFA majors and overspending, Chico State is now roughly 1.2 million dollars over budget. Various language and art classes will be cut and condensed to get the department back under budget.

Chair of the Academic Senate Jed Wyrick explained how academic affairs plans on getting the HFA department back on track.

“The Provost (of academic affairs) said, okay we’re going to fund the college of HFA for the next two years, even though they’re over (budget) we’re going to allow them to go over by a million dollars this year and a million dollars next year on the condition that they reform their curriculum to make sure they offer more efficient programs and hopefully to help them attract more majors,” Wyrick said.

Attracting more majors is a focus because a number of allocations given to a department are based on a number of students within that department. This concept is part of an allocation method called the activity-based costing model or the ABC model.

“You figure out how much colleges get from the budget based on how many students are taking classes in that college but also based on the kinds of classes they’re taking,” Wyrick explained. “So some kinds of classes get more funding than others.”

According to Wyrick, higher level, upper division majors classes get more funding than general education classes which receive the least amount of funding.

“Colleges get money for how many students they teach in the kinds of classes that the students are taking them in,” Wyrick said. “So you get the least amount of money for teaching students in general education and you get more amount of money back to the colleges for teaching lab courses or majors classes.”

According to Timothy Sistrunk, the president of California Faculty Association, Chico Chapter, HFA has more GE classes than other colleges on campus yet majors in the HFA are declining

“The number of people who major in an HFA major is declining. That’s historically true and it’s true across the country,” Sistrunk said.

Part of fixing this issue isn’t just reforming the HFA department, but also reforming the allocation model Chico State uses.

“Look this college, HFA, with languages and philosophy and history…they’re being cut just based on the model,” Sistrunk said. “That’s kind of a big value that the faculty needs to decide, it shouldn’t be some model that decides, ‘oh the language classes are gone where did they go?’’

But according to Sistrunk, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Debra Larson promised to re-evaluate the ABC model by setting up a discussion meeting.

“I think it’s a great idea that the Provost has said out in public, we’re going to re-evaluate this model and I hope she’ll bring a lot of representatives from all across the campus from different colleges and departments, however that works, to make it work,” Sistrunk said.

Alex Grant can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.