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UM Looks For Savings To Meet Tighter Budget – Adjuncts Will Be Reduced

Todd Goodrich
UM Campus

It was recently revealed that tuition at the University of Montana would be rising for the first time in nearly a decade, and in addition, the school is looking for more ways to trim personnel costs.

Communication Director Paula Short said the budget has not yet been finalized, and is still fluid at this time.

“We are facing a slight reduction from last year, so we’re making the necessary adjustments to stay within that for the next fiscal year,” Short said. “The general fund of about $145 million has to fund the salaries and operating expenses of the university.”

One of the line items in the budget is the use of adjunct professors, as Short explains.

“Somewhere between 20 to 24 percent of our faculty are hired on a part time or year to year basis,” she said. “In academic speak, they’re known as non-tenurable faculty, adjuncts, or long-time lecturers, and they’re an important part of our workforce because they bring excellent scholarship and they help with teaching extra sections or specialized subject matter. While their contract specifically says there’s no expectation of renewal, as you know, we have a lot of long-term adjunct faculty members who have been teaching here for many, many years.”

Short said the campus has been notified that fewer adjunct professors will be renewed for the coming year.

“The president (Sheila Stearns) has broadly stated that we will be using less adjunct faculty for a variety of reasons,” she said. “Budget is certainly a consideration, but also related to course registration and enrollment. For that reason. we’re really not going to know till closer to the fall term, because we don’t know how many students will want which classes, so the process is in flux right now.”

It’s up to deans and program chairs to alert their adjuncts that some may not be renewed for the coming year.

“We’re working through that notification process, while at the same time we’re trying to figure out how many of those scholars we’re going to be having back on campus,” said Short.

It was recently reported that though UM in the past has spent nearly 80 percent of its operating budget on salaries and benefits, the Board of Regents is asking it to be reduced to a number closer to 75 percent.

Meanwhile, the search for a new UM president continues.

“The job has been advertised, and I believe the closing day for earliest consideration is in July,” Short said. “The search consultants are casting a wide net to try to bring the broadest range of qualified candidates to that process.”

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