Cuts at University of Montana Cause Backlash, Petition Circulates
On Tuesday, UM President Royce Engstrom announced that cuts are coming to the University of Montana in the new budget. In response, a group called the Missoula Advocates for the University of Montana is passing around a petition and has gathered over 200 signatures asking the UM to “Stop cutting courses, programs, and adjunct positions.”
Luis Schneller, the spokesperson for the advocates, says the cuts will likely be worse than the administration is making them appear.
"A lot of times, what they will do is they will take several part-time people and cut several people instead of two or three full timers," Schneller said. "It doesn't say how many full time positions they will cut, but the way we see it coming down, the numbers [of those cut] are going to increase over what was reported."
The petition says that “any attempt to balance the university budget should begin by introducing significant cuts in superfluous administration positions.” Schneller says cuts in teaching staff limit class availability and will damage the credibility of the University in the eyes of prospective students.
"Kids that are going to school now are complaining about not being able to get certain classes," Schneller said. "One gal from Texas came all the way up here to get a degree in the classics and she was very concerned, as she signed our petition, that the language classes and some of the other prerequisites for that degree weren't going to be available for her."
Schneller says that last year the number of administrators outnumbered teaching staff at the university because teaching positions have not been refilled. Along with cuts in administration the petition asks for cuts in “expensive junkets, international trips and cruises as well as expensive receptions.”
This isn't the first issue where the Missoula Advocates for the University of Montana have gone toe-to-toe with the administration over UM planning. They recently won their fight to keep Missoula College from being built on the UM golf course. Below is a copy of the petition currently in circulation.
Petition in Support of Preserving Staff and Academic Positions at the University of Montana
In the past for years the University of Montana administration has brought the once flagship institution of the state to the brink of academic and financial collapse. After losing several thousand students and tens of millions of dollars in revenue, the administration is embarking now on a campaign to cut either by attrition or direct cuts staff and academic positions without considering any cuts to its own expenditures and the top-heavy university bureaucracy. We call on the UM administration to:
- Stop cutting courses, programs, and adjunct positions either directly or by attrition (i.e. not filling academic positions which have become vacant as a result of retirement). These cuts constitute a frontal assault on the UM curriculum.
- Stop trying to balance the university budget on the back of UM's hardworking and low-paid staff.
- Stop cutting the budget of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.
- Stop cutting either directly or by attrition the budgets of essential offices, including the Facilities Services, Office of Media and Learning Technology, etc.
- Any attempt to balance the university budget should begin by introducing significant cuts in the superfluous administrative positions, bureaucratic expenditures, expensive junkets, international trips and cruises, as well as expensive receptions.
If the UM administration does not address the serious crisis confronting the University by first applying significant cuts to its own budget, we will call on the UM Faculty Senate to begin the process of discussing the possibility of a vote of no confidence in the present leadership.
Missoula Advocates for the University of Montana