Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Shoe Drops at HSU, Sort Of

After wrenching and increasingly public debate over program elimination, the president of HSU announced the decisions, though they were hardly definitive.

The letter said that the decisions were exactly what Provost Bob Snyder recommended. Here they are verbatim:

• Suspend admissions to both Computer Science and Computer Information Systems until agreement can be reached on what, if any, computer programs to offer.
• Restructure the Nursing program, including reducing the number of students admitted to the program from 60 to 40. Require the program to develop a plan to address numerous organizational challenges.
• Suspend the MA in Theatre Arts with emphasis in Film Production, which currently has no students enrolled.
• Review the entire Theatre, Film and Dance department, with a specific focus on the undergraduate and graduate programs in theatre.

So in the end, the only program that was actually eliminated was, well, none. Except the MA in Film Production, which has no students, and therefore costs nothing. Savings were found in Nursing and elsewhere, but apparently outside funding as well as outside pressure saved the Nursing School. However the letter did note "numerous organizational challenges." Which is jargon for a program on life support that needs help but has no money or insurance.

The jargony bit about Computer Science seems to mitigate the general understanding that this program is gone, basically at the request of the program itself. But Theatre, Film & Dance is the only department that's now under "review." With this further note in the president's letter:

"The savings from these decisions, as well as the earlier decision to suspend the Industrial Technology program, amount to about $600,000 of the $1.3 million that had been sought through Program Elimination. Additional savings may be possible from the review of the Theatre, Film and Dance department."

The bloodletting has ended for awhile, partly because the school year is ending, but partly I suspect because the administration was surprised by the fallout from the process, and the harm the whole concept of "program elimination" was doing to its reputation, not to mention its ability to recruit students.

But it's not really over, and it looks like Theatre, Film & Dance is going to be a battleground. However, for a number of reasons, my ability to report on this also comes to end. As well as my inclination to do so.

But I will note this: the current production of the Redwood Curtain theatre in Eureka features six actors, four of them HSU graduates. Both directors--who are also the founders of the theatre--got HSU Theatre degrees. And the costume designer is a current HSU Theatre student.

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