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Purdue faculty say cuts will hurt areas with most diversity

April 24, 2016

Some Purdue University faculty say a plan to overhaul graduate education negatively affects disciplines with the most minority and female graduate students.

A five-year initiative laid out last semester by College of Liberal Arts Dean David Reingold would raise graduate teaching assistants' pay and trim their teaching loads by reducing incoming graduate students' class sizes and making faculty teach more undergraduate classes.

Budget cuts would come next year to departments including English, communications and languages and cultures under the proposed plan. Departments that would receive more funding are anthropology, history, political science, sociology, philosophy and visual and performing arts.

Some faculty members argue that departments facing cuts have the most diversity, while those getting more funding are less diverse, The Journal & Courier of Lafayette reported.

A 5 percent budget cut is looming next year for the School of Languages and Cultures. A written statement on behalf of the school that addressed faculty concerns was presented Tuesday by French and applied linguistics professor Jessica Sturm to the College of Liberal Arts Faculty Senate.

Sturm said at the meeting that if funding cuts to teaching assistantships to the "most diverse units" are made over five years, the College of Liberal Arts "will ensure that many minority and women grad students will be earning less than their white male counterparts."

The plan hasn't been finalized, and Reingold said cuts haven't been made yet. He said a bigger stipend should be expected by each graduate student in the college with a 50 percent work appointment. He said he has worked on negotiating a budget with heads of each department to figure out one that will work.

Reingold said changes must be made to the college for it to stay competitive in graduate education.

"There's got to be some changes to educational programs and hopefully we can do that in a thoughtful, responsible way that does not harm our students," Reingold said.

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