The University of Vermont is restructuring and eliminating low-performing areas of studies. A group critical of the college administration’s cuts to the College of Arts and Sciences this week called for the president to resign.
In December 2020 UVM administrators announced a plan to phase out low enrollment programs in the College of Arts and Sciences to address a budget deficit of $8.6 million. Since then a group supported by the faculty union formed, gaining support from students and the community. UVM United Against the Cuts claims the college in Burlington does not have a financial crisis but is rather downsizing. Associate Professor of French Meaghan Emery said faculty and staff do not trust the administration and in particular President Suresh Garimella.
“We have no confidence in this president," Emery said. "Something is terribly awry. Faculty are very concerned about UVM’s budgetary practices and lack of transparency regarding the UVM Foundation. Thanks to faculty research we learned that contrary to the administration's claims the College of Arts and Sciences is not a financial drain on the university.”
United Academics is the faculty union at the college. President Julie Roberts said a survey they distributed in January found the majority of their members would support a no confidence vote.
“Fifty-six percent of faculty respondents felt job insecure, and roughly the same stated they were looking for jobs elsewhere," Roberts said. "The reasons for this I believe are many but for squarely and directly from administrative decision making that was not only unilateral but done in ways that denied the humanity of the faculty and staff.”
University of Vermont Provost Patty Prelock says claims by those opposing the cuts are unfounded.
“Everything we’re doing under President Garimella’s leadership and that of the senior leadership team is to ensure that we have continued success and stability of the university," Prelock said. "There’s a suggestion that we are just cutting a rich Liberal Arts education. That’s absolutely not correct. We still have 44 remaining majors in the College of Arts and Sciences and nearly one-third of those are in the liberal arts. And then if you look at our minors we still have 52 minors and more than a third of those are in the arts and humanities.”
Prelock adds that accusations the college is manufacturing a fiscal crisis conflate financial statements with the budget.
“It’s makes me cringe when people say that we’re decimating the Liberal Arts," Prelock noted. "No not at all. We are giving opportunities for re-invention, interdisciplinary connections and more opportunities for students not just in Arts and Sciences but other colleges to engage in a Liberal Arts curriculum. It’s a much more complicated financial framework than I think our union colleagues really understand or are willing to consider.”
Provost Prelock noted that five other colleges within the University of Vermont also face cuts and are negotiating with the administration.