UC Irvine School Profiles
School of Biological Sciences
By Annie Kim
The School of Biological Sciences has undoubtedly some of the most impacted majors here. The budget cuts will continue to pile on damage to the last round of budget cuts during the 2008-2010 academic years. Since the size of the upcoming budget cuts remains unknown, it is still early to contemplate over the impact that it may have. Dean Al Bennett describes the effects of budget cuts from previous years to give a glimpse of what students, faculty and administration can prepare for.
“The School eliminated 16 professorial positions, previously filled or unfilled, and our number of professorial teaching faculty fell from 120 to 108. We had to terminate all of our 18 temporary lecturers and 28 of our 97 staff positions. We lost well over $1 million in permanent funding for school operations,” Bennett said.
As the laying off of professors, lecturers and staff shrunk, class sizes continue to grow, and some classes were cut altogether. Many discussion sections in biology classes were unfortunately canceled. There were a great number of students that missed the opportunity for interaction with the instructor, negating many benefits of (formerly) small group interactions.
Opportunities and learning experiences that current seniors enjoyed will now be closed to future students in the School of Biological Sciences.
“We had to terminate the entire freshman seminar program, one in which every one of our majors had the opportunity to spend a quarter with a faculty member, exploring an area of biology in depth in a very small group setting. In order to accommodate all of our majors, we had to reduce the number of laboratory classes required for our major,” Bennett said.
However, Bennett, representing the School of Biological Sciences, promises that the school will continue to try their best to maintain a high-quality educational experience for their students. Unfortunately, this will become gradually more difficult if financial support from the state of California continues to decline.
School of Business
By Karen Zhou
At first glance, the undergraduate program at the Paul Merage School of Business seems unaffected by the budget cuts.
Demand for the young business administration major continues to increase, with over 4,700 freshmen applications for fall 2011. More than 2,000 transfer student applications makes it the most requested major for transfers.
“We enroll a total of 150 new students each academic year,” said Assistant Dean Denise Patrick. “Most are freshmen, some are transfers and some are change-of-majors. At steady state in 2011-12, we will have 600 enrolled business administration majors at UCI.”
The Merage School has even added a new staff member for career counseling, as their first set of undergraduates have reached junior standing.
In order to maintain a successful and in-demand program, administrators at the Merage School faced, and will continue to face, a string of tough decisions.
“Over the past two years, we’ve had to look at our budget very carefully, prioritize our projects and, unfortunately, cut back on a few initiatives,” said Rick So, associate dean for undergraduate programs.
Those initiatives include expanding the minor program, which currently focuses on accounting and management.
They have been exploring new minors, including a minor in management for biotechnology and a minor in industrial and organizational psychology. However, the budget cuts have forced them to put these on hold temporarily.
“We would love to offer more elective courses within the major. However, we also have to make sure that we offer a sufficient number of required courses so students can finish the program on time,” So said.
While they are unsure of the exact impact of Governor Brown’s proposal, they are ready for the imminent round of budget cuts.
“Administration has assured our community that they are doing everything they can to manage through these difficult times, just as we have managed through them in the past,” Patrick said.
“The cut was not unexpected, and we have already taken measures to help mitigate its impact as it pertains to efficiencies.”
Henry Samueli School of Engineering
By Annie Kim
The Henry Samueli School of Engineering has been and will continue to experience consequences of the UC budget crisis.
There has been a significant shortage of faculty, staff and resources to deal with the vast increases in student enrollments. As a result, many classes suffer from a student-to-faculty ratio of 1-to-35.
“This means larger classes and less opportunity for one-on-one interaction of students and faculty. In addition, the faculty have less staff support for their educational and research activities,” said Dimitri Papamoschou, the interim dean of The Henry Samuli School of Engineering and a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.
Engineering students will lose multiple opportunities to grow in their majors through research and activities that would have been provided by the state of California.
Despite the budget cuts, in the next two years, The Henry Samueli School of Engineering is planning to hire up to 10 professors which isn’t enough to offset the undesirable student-to-faculty ratio. Papamoschou believed that the staff is doing an outstanding job despite being stretched thin.
“One of our top priorities is a dramatic increase, perhaps doubling and eventually tripling of our research funding,” Papamoschou said. “This is necessary to elevate our school to the very top ranks. The extra revenue that comes to the school, in terms of overhead recovery, helps all the aspects of our operation, not only research.”
The UC budget cuts are not only taking a toll on the number of faculty, staff, classes and research in engineering but because the engineering majors are quite impacted, it may reduce the number of acceptances.
“We are committed to preserving the quality of our educational mission,” Papamoschou said, “With the impending cuts, which are expected to be devastating, the only feasible way to maintain quality may be to reduce enrollments. So it is possible that we will be accepting fewer students.”
The Henry Samueli School of Engineering is assuring their students and the future work force that they will guarantee “quality versus quantity.”
School of Physical Sciences
By Mallory Yu
Governor Brown’s proposed $500 million budget cut to the University of California school system poses serious problems for the School of Physical Sciences at UC Irvine.
Facing such severe cuts is a daunting prospect for a school already hurting from the last round of budget cuts in 2009.
“It’s difficult because we already feel we’re cut to the bone,” Interim Dean Kenneth Janda said.
Speculation about the severity of Brown’s proposals is still very much up in the air, but it doesn’t look good.
“We feel as if we are in so much trouble right now. We’ve already cut back so much, we just don’t know how we’re going to make this work,” Janda said.
After the last round of cuts, the school was forced to lay off lecturers, resulting in fewer classes. Not only is it more difficult for students to repeat courses they may have failed, class sizes have increased dramatically. For example, the freshman general chemistry lecture went from a maximum of 370 students per lecture section in 2007 up to 450 students this year.
“How much bigger can we get? I mean, do we start teaching in the Bren?” Janda asked.
On top of that, lab equipment is renewed much less often than is ideal. Students are subsequently working with machinery that is older and more run-down, not to mention antiquated.
With these additional budget cuts, the School of Physical Sciences faces a further slash in its budget. With classes already full to capacity and staff doing twice as much work with less help, the outlook is grim.
“We don’t want to hurt the students unless we have to, but it just doesn’t look good,” Janda said. “It’s just unimaginably painful.”
School of Social Ecology
By Christine Hsieh
The School of Social Ecology covers a vast array of interdisciplinary studies that are convincingly fundamental to understanding the human condition and its many self-wrought complications. It is becoming increasingly evident that the planet needs desperate help with urban planning, salvaging and prevention of further destruction of the environment, and attention to the world’s numerous flawed justice systems.
Home to three integral departments at UC Irvine, the school of social ecology is comprised of approximately 2,160 undergraduate majors and 290 graduate students, and 66 faculty members in four majors, five minors and seven graduate degree programs across three departments — Criminology, Law and Society, Planning, Policy and Design, and Psychology and Social Behavior. Its nationally renowned graduate programs include the Master of Urban and Regional Planning, Master of Advanced Study in Criminology, Law and Society, Master of Public Policy, as well as doctoral programs. The school is also affiliated with programs and organizations that are a resource pool for its students to supplement their studies throughout their academic journey, such as the “Shaping the Future” campaign and the Criminology Outreach Program.
While the school’s Interim Dean Valerie Jenness was unavailable for comment, Professor Ken Chew of planning, policy and design shared his thoughts on the recently announced budget proposal.
“We have less access to community practitioners … There are a number of unfunded positions we’d like to hire for, but until there’s budget to hire, we can’t …. Our practicing planners, practicing architects, people who are actually active in [planning] in the community — we can’t hire them anymore,” Chew said.
However, he states that his department hasn’t shrunk as a consequence of the budget cuts.
“We’re actually growing by leaps and bounds, in terms of our undergraduate program.”
College of Health Sciences & School of Medicine
By Jessica Pratt
Since entering the world of health care is one of the most popular career choices for UC Irvine students, it is of great concern as to how the School of Medicine and the College of Health Sciences will be affected by the proposed $500 million budget cut.
“We cannot speculate on something that has not yet been instituted,” Media Relations consultant Tom Vasich said. The faculty and staff members are still a few steps removed from the actual budget cuts and are unsure of how classes, programs, tools and other educational materials will be affected. As of now, they are looking at a “picture that is not quite yet in focus” and are waiting to see what happens.
Although administrators from these two schools are unable to predict how the budget cuts will affect their programs, students in this field of study have expressed their concerns of what the future will bring. Pharmaceutical sciences major Tanya Luc is worried that budget cuts will make it more difficult to get into medical schools.
“It’s going to be harder to find research opportunities because of the funding, and that’s basically what the medical schools look for,” Luc said. She is concerned that budget cuts will make it harder for more research projects to be funded, so it will be more difficult to prove to medical schools how active she’s been and what research she has done. Even though it is hard to guess exactly what will happen in the future, the only thing students, faculty and staff can do at the moment is hope for the best and plan to take the appropriate actions as the need arises.
School of Social Sciences
By Marlin Agoub
The School of Social Sciences, comprised of roughly 7,000 undergraduate and 380 graduate students, will almost undoubtedly be affected by the proposed budget cuts.
“The two previous years, we had cuts totaling $1.8 million just in social sciences, [and this caused] dramatic problems for us,” Assistant Dean David Leinen said. “To meet the previous budget cut, we reduced dramatically the number of classes that we’re teaching, reduced our reliance on lecturers and cut back how we spend money here.”
David Leinen has been an associate dean in the school of social sciences for 11 years and has been at UCI for over 25 years. Leinen is responsible for all of the staff, the budget and facilities.
On a broader scale, all UCI students will be affected. UCI students are required to take social science courses to meet their breadth requirements, and now fewer classes are being offered compared to previous years.
Class sizes have also gotten larger as the school tries to cater to students in their majors, allowing their students the ability to graduate in four years.
“We have a staff here of about 80. Compared with three years ago, we are down about 12 staff members,” Leinen said. “We laid two people off and then as people leave, we take the work and shuffle it amongst others, so the staff is doing extra work.”
It will be more difficult for students to get classes due to a decreased number of staff and lecturers and fewer classes being taught.
“We try to get ahead of the problem,” Leinen said. “It’s been a challenge but we think we are doing a good job … [we are] working with the smartest people in the whole world right here in the university.”
Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science
By Monica Luhar
The Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS) is just one of many schools at UC Irvine that has been heavily hit by budget cuts. It is uncertain as to whether Governor Jerry Brown’s $500 million proposed reduction for the UC system will come to pass.
For many people, the proposal is a chilling reminder of the recent budget cuts that significantly impacted ICS as well as other schools in 2009-2010.
Professor of statistics Hal Stern recently became Dean of ICS. His vision is to expose computing across the student body.
Aside from the budget challenges, ICS is also facing the issue of undergraduate enrollment. Student enrollment was at its highest during the dot-com years when there was a demand for computer science majors. About 300 freshmen entered the program. Now, freshmen enrollment has dropped to around 160.
“There’s a great deal of uncertainty,” Stern said. “The best way to think about this is to go back a mere two years ago and think about what happened when we had a significant cut.”
For the last couple of years, ICS has lost eight staff positions, none of which have been currently replaced.
“On the faculty side, there were three or four vacant positions and unfortunately we did not have the resources to recruit them.”
As a result of past reductions in spending, class sizes have significantly increased from about 160 to 250 students. In addition to class sizes, the staff and faculty workload have increased substantially.
Upper-division undergraduate ICS classes are the most affected, especially because it is less likely that a specific course may be offered as frequently as many may expect.
“We have again, a few faculty positions that are likely to disappear,” Stern said. “Next year, whatever the number is going to be, there’s going to be stress on workload and fewer options for students. We might have to cancel sections or elective classes.”
Stern predicts that class offerings usually offered twice during an academic year might now be offered only once a year due to further reductions in spending.
ICS offers seven unique majors for undergraduates, including the recently added computer game science major. The biggest challenge facing ICS is being able to afford hiring instructors with great expertise including a specialized lab with the newest technology.
“How much more can we cut because we believe we’ve cut almost to the bone already,” Assistant Dean Annette R. Luckow said.
Another area that has been affected by previous budget cuts is access to counseling staff. In response to the demand for counselors, ICS has created a peer advisor and student ambassador program as a way to combat the issue and accommodate students.
Other cutbacks also include shorter computer lab hours.
“We’ve cut out some of the student assistance support at the computer lab. That’s been reduced, but we are keeping labs open and diminishing lab hours during weekends. They were later in the evening in the past,” Luckow said.
ICS is finding new ways to save money while trying to meet student needs. Instead of buying brand new systems, ICS is purchasing refurbished equipment with extended warranties.
Looking ahead, ICS will continue to assess its students’ greatest needs and to improve diversity among new students coming into the program.
Note: The print version of the New University’s special budget issue includes a note from the Features editors that explain that “[s]chools not covered here are being covered here are being covered in other sections or were unavailable for comment.” Please click the following links for: School of Law, School of Humanities (via the HOT program) and the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.