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USM committee completes appeal of program cuts

HATTIESBURG — A committee of deans and faculty members at the University of Southern Mississippi has completed the appeals process for programs slated to be eliminated, and has presented its report to USM president Dr. Martha Saunders.

The committee recommended retaining 10 programs, eliminating 11 programs and retention of resources – faculty or graduate assistants – for two other eliminated programs.

The University Priorities Committee (UPC) had initially recommended the elimination or consolidation of programs on both the Hattiesburg campus and at Southern Miss Gulf Coast. Based on recommendations from the UPC, the Executive Cabinet initiated cutting/eliminating 27 programs. Only 23 programs were appealed. These appeals were heard by panels comprised of five faculty members and four deans not overseeing the program under appeal.

According to the letter containing votes and recommendations – signed by Dr. Shiao Wang, chair of the Program Elimination Appeals Committee and a biology professor – and addressed to Saunders, the committee claims adoption of its recommendations will result in $2,860,240 of the Executive Cabinet’s projected savings of $3,020,369, or a 94.7 percent savings.

The original UPC recommendations from Aug. 2010 called for selected degree programs and academic initiatives to be eliminated in all five of the academic colleges. Twenty-nine faculty members were notified that the current academic year would be the terminal year on their contracts. All state universities have been mandated by the IHL Board of Trustees to prepare and present budget cuts for the 2011-2012 academic year. At Southern Miss the anticipated decrease for 2012 is approximately $15 million.

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