ASU is beginning a wide-ranging reorganization of its largest academic programs in order to cut $6 million from the budget this school year.
On Monday, Arizona State University officials announced plans to eliminate 61 administrative jobs; 33 of them are already vacant.
Since April, the university has shed roughly 230 administrative positions, and more than $22 million in costs, as part of the state’s effort to reduce its estimated $2 billion deficit, said ASU Provost Elizabeth Capaldi.
The university also intends to eliminate two deans and 18 department chairs; faculty members in those positions are expected to return to teaching full-time.
ASU employs more than 13,000 people and its yearly operating budget is more than $400 million.
While the most recent cuts come from the university’s academic side, officials insist neither students’ education nor their degree paths will be affected.
“We’re not going to touch academic programs,” said Virgil Renzulli, an ASU spokesman. “We’re going to cut everything but academic programs (that would) limit options for students or cut faculty positions.”
The university’s Academic Senate and the Arizona Board of Regents still must sign off on the reorganization before it takes effect.
ASU President Michael Crow told the faculty that the reorganization details are negotiable, said Phil VanderMeer, chairman of the Academic Senate. “The president said very explicitly that this is not a done deal.”
Faculty members’ initial reaction to the proposal has been mixed, VanderMeer said.
However, Capaldi said many of the proposed changes have been in the works for months.
“The budget kind of pushed us to do some ideas that we thought were good anyway,” Capaldi said. “Normally you wouldn’t do it all at once.”
Most of the proposed changes would merge together academic units to reduce the number administrative staff. Those include:
• The creation of four new schools by consolidating 10 smaller departments. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences would house three of the new units — a School of Social Transformation; a School of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies; and a School of Government, Politics and Global Studies.
• The College of Technology and Innovation at ASU’s Polytechnic campus in east Mesa would merge its engineering programs into a single department.
• The School of Global Management and Leadership, a business program at the ASU West campus, would fold into the much larger School of Business.
Faculty members can lobby ASU’s top administrators concerning the proposals’ specifics, VanderMeer said. But they cannot prevent budget cuts.
“The caveat is that we need to save $6 million. If we think some parts of the proposal are not desirable, we need to come up with other ways, other kinds of reorganization that make more sense,” VanderMeer said.
Gary Waissi, the global management school’s dean, said he supports the changes, even though they eliminate his position. Global management students would become business school students.
“And I’m not saying that just to make it sound good,” Waissi said.
The global management school has essentially been competition for ASU’s main and nationally-recognized business school, which has hindered both programs, Waissi said. “If we have multiple business schools, it’s sort of harder to do.”