Consolidation is a way to save money. The question is whether we value saving whole departments (among other things) more than saving money. We can handle the loss of funds. Although there is a certain amount of money that is absolutely needed just to run things minimally, if instructors (and other employees) and more importantly students simply deal with the fact that we are in lean and mean times, then they can consciously make the effort to perform well in spite of that. Things are not ideal right now, obviously; however, if anyone is going to have to experience less financial support, it ought to be the relatively well-to-do institutions and those who participate in them instead of, say, needy families.
As budget cuts continue, the university must evaluate different ways to save money and keep WSU alive. Consolidation has been one of several recent approaches to the problem. For obvious reasons, this method can only be taken so far. Personally, I do not really want an administrator with a science background making decisions on what to cut in the liberal arts program. On the other hand, consolidation is better than elimination. At least we still have a liberal arts program.
Consolidation is a fine temporary solution, but if budget cuts continue, it will not be a sustainable solution. Already we are seeing the College of Sciences consolidated with the College of Liberal Arts, two very different programs. Combining like-minded programs makes sense, but when you start combing science with liberal arts you are diluting two great but separate fields. Combining the various science departments, consolidating vet med with nursing or even combining communication with English make some sense. But it will not matter if the budget cuts continue.
If it works, then well and good. But the real question is: How is it going to affect the quality of education that WSU boasts about? We have already seen the cut-backs in prerequisite classes. English 101, for example. This has meant fewer sections for students to pick from, resulting in pushed-back schedules and graduations.
Have an opinion about this Talk Back question? Send a response to firstname.lastname@example.org