Students in the University of Montana College of Humanities and Sciences are protesting the most recent round of budget cuts that they fear will devastate or even end some of their programs.

Maddie Hagan is President of the University of Montana’s Society of History, as well as having a double major in History and Philosophy and a minor in African American Studies. She spoke to KGVO News outside Main Hall as the bell tolled 12:00 noon.

Hagan explained the purpose of the rally within sight of UM President Seth Bodnar’s office in Main Hall.

“We're here today to celebrate the humanities and to protest the proposed budget cuts of $2.6 million to the College of Humanities and Sciences,” Hagan began. “It would devastate our programs. We have sustained $10.4 million in cuts since 2015, and an additional 2.6 million would mean a lot of our staff would be fired; programs could be cut or combined, and that would look like philosophy and history being smushed together into a hybrid program that wouldn't function well.”

Hagan was hopeful that the show of support on Friday would put a halt to the proposed budget cuts.

“I hope that the administration recognizes that humanities are very important to the university and the greater Missoula culture and community,” she said. “And I hope that they recognize that no additional cuts should be imposed on the College of Humanities and Sciences budget.”

Hagan said that the rally, which will continue until 5:00 p.m. will also be collecting written statements that will be hand delivered to President Bodnar.

“Part of what we're doing today is collecting statements from students,” she said “So statements, testimonials, and editorials, and I will be delivering them. We're also collecting signatures. “We’re putting together information for him (President Bodnar) to see. We’re asking people to specifically to sign a statement that they agree that no additional cuts should be imposed to the budget and that they are in full support of the humanities.”

KGVO also spoke with Dave Kuntz, Director of Strategic Communications at the University of Montana who provided a different perspective on the school’s budget.

He said the liberal arts focus of the university is being maintained in the new ‘living budget’ model.

“At the College of Humanities and the Arts here at the university, they're the bedrock of a UM education,” said Kuntz. “They always have been and they always will be. Even under this new budget model, the College of Humanities and Sciences will still get more than twice as much of the funding from the university as any other college, and in fact, over the last 10 years, the university has invested 70% more per student credit hour in students at the College of Humanities and Sciences; that's 50% more than any other college on campus.”

In addition, Kuntz claimed the interest in the humanities by students has declined dramatically over the last decade.

“Looking back to 2010, the student credit hour is how we measure how many students are enrolled in these colleges,” he said. “The student credit hour at the College of Humanities and scientists has decreased 82% in the last 10 years. and at that same time, we've actually seen some colleges grow at U of M, our College of Health, the College of Forestry, and the College of Law, however due to the old budget model, that the resources aren't able to shift to those colleges that are growing that's reflected in the new student interest.”

As the University of Montana struggles to get past the COVID 19 pandemic, the work continues to provide a world class education in one if the most beautiful settings in the country.


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