College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) dean Beate Schmittmann spoke with the Faculty Senate at its March 8 meeting about the recently announced Reimagining LAS initiative.
The $11.4 million annual budget deficit the college began this fiscal year with, in a $105 million budget, is expected to grow to $15 million by FY2025. To deal with the deficit, the college will use several strategies, including reductions to the college's central programs and services and reductions to 19 department budgets that range from zero to 25%. The process will last for several years, through June 2026.
"We have already reduced our central non-departmental college operations, reduced faculty hiring and, a couple of years ago, had an across-the-board cut of 10% to all of our programs," Schmittmann said.
In fall 2021, ISU enrolled about 16% fewer students than in 2016, and nearly 90% of LAS revenue comes from tuition, Schmittmann said.
The number of college credits students come to campus with also rose significantly over the past 12 years. In 2008, freshmen, on average, started college with 7.6 early credits. By fall 2019, that grew to 17.2 credits earned.
"The increase is predominantly credits [that would come] from LAS, which is a lot of lost student credit hours and attached revenue," she said.
Schmittmann said any significant changes to programs or departments will follow university and state Board of Regents policies. Action plans and financial tools provided by the dean's office will help department chairs model budget implications and determine the best path forward, but "very difficult decisions sometimes have to be made."
Senators inquired about the amount of faculty input sought when determining departmental cuts. Others questioned whether other colleges are facing similar economic issues.
"Each college is unique, but LAS is the only college that has an issue of this scale that requires this kind of effort right now," said senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert.
Michael Bootsma (accounting), Heather Greenlee (biomedical sciences) and William Jenks (chemistry) were elected as Faculty Senate representatives to the athletics council. Members are eligible for two three-year terms on the council.
Apparel, events and hospitality management associate professor Kelly Reddy-Best was named the chair of the U.S. diversity course requirement committee that began its work this semester. The permanent committee is responsible for approving courses proposed to satisfy the U.S. diversity requirement. It is overseen by the academic affairs council.
Senators approved a name change for the bachelor's in agriculture and society program, to agricultural and rural policy studies in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Discussions about curriculum changes for the program continue among department chairs and associate deans.