Hundreds Rally Against UM Budget Cuts

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University of Montana officials said 67 adjunct professors of arts and sciences have lost their jobs for the next academic year as part of widespread budget cuts across all departments.

On Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of students, faculty and staff gathered on The Oval in the middle of campus to voice their opinions about Um's budget.

Originally, administrators projected a $17 million shortfall, which has improved to about $8 million.

They said faculty cuts must be made to balance out last year's enrollment drop, but some people say that means many students will lose the chance to take vital courses.

UM administrators said the faculty cuts must be made in order to balance out the enrollment drop, but faculty and students say those cuts come at a big cost to vital courses for students in the future.
Mehrdad Kia, a Professor of History at UM, said nearly 70 faculty members found out their courses had been zeroed out or completely eliminated from their own students trying to register for fall semester.

"We had a good group of faculty members who felt very insulted and humiliated," Kia said.

Kia said they rallied together on the oval today to encourage opening lines of communication to find a way to balance out the budget shortfall.

He added, "When you do cut, and there might be real cuts that might be necessary, we have to take a holistic approach."

Eamon Ormseth, an ASUM Senator, said many students are losing the chance to further their education when courses are cut.

"How can you be a global citizen without knowing a global language or taking a history class?" Ormseth stated.

Many faculty and students said administrators should restructure within their own department before making cuts from academics. However, administrators said the faculty cuts were the logical solution, considering 80% of the budget's general fund goes towards instruction, academic support, and student services like tutoring and scholarships.

"When you're looking overall, at where the money goes and where it's spent, it overwhelmingly is for academics and instruction," said Peggy Kuhr, Vice President for Integrated Communications.

Administrators said about 10% of the fund goes towards campus maintenance, and the rest pays administrators salaries.

They said they're doing their best to appropriate funds evenly, during a time when budget cuts are necessary.

"We're anticipating fewer than we were even a month ago, because those projections get clearer, so that's good news," Kuhr said.

UM officials said right now, they've made no actual budget reductions -- they're waiting on the results in the Legislature, and official enrollment numbers to come in.

"We would like to see faculty, students and staff all come to the table at the same time," added Ormseth.

Administrators said they're planning public hearings on the budget for later this month, and they hope to have the budget finalized by the end of May.

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