Rye program heads look to trim the fat

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By Aleysha Haniff

Associate News Editor

Ryerson’s programs are facing an eight per cent budget cut over the next two years following cuts to the school’s operating budget.

Each program is expected to cut costs by up to five per cent next year and three per cent the year after to deal with the economic crisis. Any changes would affect the 2010-2011 school year.

Annick Mitchell, chair of interior design, is trying to find ways to stretch her operating budget without affecting her program’s accreditation.

“There aren’t a lot of places to cut,” she said. There’s an “idea that there is a lot of fat in the system where there isn’t a lot of fat,” she added.

Mitchell’s hoping to streamline the program to co-ordinate courses that teach similar themes. Ideally, what was normally done in three courses could be accomplished in two, she said.

She’d also make cuts to her operating budget, she said. For example, since most people use email or Blackberrys, she said she may limit the number of landlines provided by the university.

But Mitchell’s only begun exploring her options. Nothing is definite until her ideas are approved by the Academic Standards Council this fall.

Ryerson President Sheldon Levy acknowledges the changes the impending cuts will cause.

“I really do believe that if you are going to reduce budgets by three to five per cent, it’s not business as usual,” he said. “It doesn’t make it a poor product, but it makes it a different product.”

Dr. Usha George, dean of the faculty of community services, said reviews to the program would have to be made at the chair level.

“It will have a major impact on hiring,” she said.

Michael Dewson, vice-provost of faculty affairs, also said fewer professors will be hired by Ryerson for the upcoming year.

Last year, Ryerson added 25 positions for tenure-stream faculty. Though the numbers won’t be as high this year, he stressed that more people will be hired than professors retiring.

Another departmental chair, who asked to remain unnamed, said expanding class size would be impossible in some of his classes.

Like Mitchell, his courses involve a lot of hands-on training. And while a few extra students wouldn’t make much of a difference in a lecture, their impact would be felt in a more practical environment.

“To keep the quality of education up, we don’t have the option of growing our classes… a large portion of our program is studio-based with… experiential learning going on, which is what makes us so special,” the chair said.

There’s a tipping point, he said, and his program has to figure out how much they can cut before studios become ineffective.

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