Fresno State will keep College of Science and Math

The Fresno BeeJanuary 30, 2012 

Fresno State officials have rescinded a controversial recommendation to eliminate the College of Science and Mathematics, marking a victory for faculty and students from the college who forcefully have opposed the idea since its announcement in the fall.

The proposal was part of a list of recommendations put together by a task force in October in an effort to shave $2 million from the academic budget. On Friday, Provost William Covino sent out a revised list -- and the recommendation to eliminate the College of Science and Mathematics had been withdrawn.

Student and faculty from the college rejoiced. Jennifer Harmon, a member of the student group Save Fresno State College of Science and Math, which had formed to protest the recommendation, said in an email that the reversal "speaks leaps and bounds" of the power students can have.

The recommendation had drawn fire from the start. The task force proposed dissolving the college and moving math and science programs to the agriculture, education and engineering colleges.

Faculty and students said the move would drive out faculty, deter some of the brightest students, undercut research and discourage employers from hiring graduates.

They shared their concerns during meetings with the task force over the past few months -- and their opposition, apparently, had some effect.

Faculty will discuss the final recommendations at the Academic Senate meeting 4 p.m. Monday at the Satellite Student Union.

Covino will announce his final decision on budget cuts at the Provost's Forum from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Feb. 16 in the Satellite Student Union.

Some faculty said they have concerns with the remaining recommendations, which include moving child and family sciences courses to the Kremen School of Education and Human Development, sending fashion merchandising to the Craig School of Business and making economics part of the Craig School of Business.

Faculty from the College of Science and Mathematics and the College of Arts and Humanities have sent responses to the task force, criticizing what they say was a misguided process used to decide the recommendations. Some students also are concerned by the recommendation to eliminate some dean offices.

Said Harmon, "the fight may not be completely over yet."

Covino said in his letter that he has scaled back his original budget gap projection and is looking to save $900,000 to $1.2 million.

However, the possibility of an $11 million cut, triggered if Gov. Jerry Brown's tax plan fails to win voter approval in November, could mean more drastic measures.

The reporter can be reached at hsomerville@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6412.

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