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DR. EDIE WEST: Looking for cuts in all the wrong places

on August 25, 2013 1:29 AM

I recently read of the retrenchment — proposed elimination — of 22 faculty colleagues at Clarion University with a heavy heart.

Since the 2011 state budget cut, my own university (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) has lost 25 permanent faculty members, while other State System of Higher Education campuses have lost 180 permanent faculty members — an overall cut of about 3 percent statewide.

Yet, in the same period, management positions have increased.

Also, at the same time that universities are cutting faculty positions, outstanding debt systemwide has reached nearly $2 billion.

It appears that the construction boom on campuses has diverted resources from instruction.

For an institution whose primary function is supposed to be to disseminate knowledge, promote scholarship, encourage study and research, advance critical thought and the practical application thereof to the wider community, this reality is not only appalling, it is counterproductive.

As a nurse, I’ve seen this same scenario played out in regard to our existing health care institutions. Cuts occur at the client’s bedside in an institution whose primary purpose is supposed to be patient care, while administrative roles and institutional expansion projects proliferate.

Though I recognize that educational as well as health care systems operate on the business model and do need to be fiscally responsible in order to survive, I find it difficult to understand how they hope to do so and maintain their overall purpose and quality of services. How will eliminating the people who are qualified to do the work while simultaneously increasing those who cannot, along with the number of buildings, balance the budget?

 

Dr. Edie West

associate professor of nursing,

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

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