Hiring freeze increases negative effects of budget cuts

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Students and teachers alike have had to shoulder the burden of budget cuts made to the University of Wisconsin System as they have seen their college experience change.

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has not been able to avoid these effects, one of the most detrimental being the hiring freeze.

“The School of Journalism and Mass Communication, you know, felt the pain of the budget cuts very directly because we happened to have a number of faculty members who left the year that those cuts were announced,” Lucas Graves, an assistant professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said. “And because of those cuts we aren’t going to be able to replace them, and I think stories like that are playing out across campus.”

After the $250 million dollar budget cut to the UW System in 2015-17, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication saw four of its 18 faculty members leave and had to spend thousands of dollars to retain three other faculty members. One faculty member, Professor James Baughman, passed away.

Three other faculty members are also retiring. After all is said and done, the school will be left with 56 percent of the faculty that it had last year.

“We make every effort to make sure that students can still graduate as quickly as possible because that is still a top priority, but in order to do that, given fewer faculty, we have to reduce the frequency of certain courses or the variety of course offerings we are offering in a given semester,” Graves said.

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication has needed to get creative in order to try and mitigate the negative effects brought on by the budget cuts to the UW System.

“We’ve already made some changes to our curriculum that I think represent real advances,” Graves said. “So in the effort to adapt to these cuts we have done some creative things that will result in new teaching approaches and positive changes to the curriculum, but it’s a shame that the spur for that has to be this really dramatic diminishing of our resources because that is not the only way to promote creativity and innovation in higher education.”

In-person interview with Lucas Graves, 10/24/2016.
Wisconsin State Journal, UW trains students for life, not just jobs, April 9, 2016.

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