Date: Sat Aug 22 23:11:38 2009 Back to Contents ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Author: Martin Simon

Subject: Re: Cost-Cutting / Money-Making Measures in Tough


Here's how it's happening at our public university. Secretaries
gone, lecturers gone, electronic shop gone. We are admitting
1/2 the normal number of graduate students to physics and astronomy and
we were worried there would be zero grad students. If we are the most
important discipline for the future there will be less researchers in
the pipeline soon. We are reducing the number of undergrad admits too.
All honors physics lecture courses have been eliminated. There had
been an honors series in biophysics for the premed/biology students
and honors physics classes for the physics majors and engineers. Some
classes will not be offered every quarter so students will have to go to
summer school or extension. We have been furloughed without pay
the equivalent of 1 month of working days this year.

All departments have been told they will be permanently shrunk by 10-20%
All but a handful of faculty recruitments have been canceled. Senior
faculty are being encouraged to retire and won't be replaced. These
measures have brought us to 2/3rds of the necessary budget cut for
this year. No one knows yet where the other 1/3 will come from, except
for the vague "program cancellations". Which programs no one knows.
It could be the lecture demo program. Committees made up of people
outside our area will review our programs and if they are too
expensive, cancel them. We are an expensive part of the teaching
of physics and astro, and most other departments have nothing
comparable. Physics exceptionalism does not sound good to people
from other departments. (No one has yet proposed to eliminate lecture
demos and labs, but I no longer rule it out if deeper cuts need to
be made.) Other programs that may be canceled, all foreign
languages taught here. That has been openly discussed.

More and deeper cuts are still likely down the line, because we still
don't have a real or honest budget. No one knows how far down the
Universities will go. Some call it an opportunity, some call it a
death spiral.

There has been a call from 21 department heads from UC San Diego for
a different approach. They propose to preserve funding for the
best UC research Universities and shut down UC Riverside,
UC Santa Cruz, and the new UC Merced. That proposal has been
rejected by the chancellor.

It's not all bad. Individual morale is still good. The staff
is still innovating and moving things forward. Resources have
not totally dried up. That's the view from here.

Martin Simon

chuck... wrote:
> Perhaps it is not the usage as much as the overhead. Chop the Admin
> overhead in half. Let Johnny and Susie wait in line like the rest of the
> world. Cut all of the secretarial staff just like industry did 30 years ago
> and let those who need copiers, pay for each copy using the copy keys that
> are actually part of each copier. Quadruple the charges for foreign
> entities to use the facilities. Kill off all 'private' research unless it
> plays significant royalties to the univerisity or college where the
> discovery is made. Stop letting the professors waltz out with intellectual
> property that was developed with institutional money! Stop the fiscal
> hemmoraging1
> cheers,
> chuck...
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of Urs Lauterburg
> Sent: Saturday, August 22, 2009 2:38 AM
> To:
> Subject: Re: [tap-l] Cost-Cutting / Money-Making Measures in Tough
> Well, this is a difficult theme and one may argue if it's on or off topic
> for the scope of this list. However, if we don't get funded then we won't be
> engaged in our profession. So it is a very essential theme I think.
> If the capacity of existing money sources decrease for whatever reason that
> is, the only reasonable thing to do is to adjust the usage.
> The question is how one would go about. In a heterogenous society where
> different parts of the population have different opinions about what is
> important what is not you are bound do get into heavy debates. On the other
> hand there are some facts to consider.
> Arguing about the most essential and important domains for a society I think
> it's clear that a sustaining food and energy production/distribution is
> vital. Everything else is based on the two. It should be clear that these
> two aspects can only exist if a sufficient number of talented people are
> professionally engaged in science and engineering. The very foundation for
> these disciplines is physics, the fundamental understanding of how a
> substantial part of our nature is shaped. It should be clear that investing
> in education in physics leads to a good and important return of the
> resources spent.
> Thus despite the fact that other, generally more man centered academic
> disciplines are interesting and important as well, there should a rational
> emphasis if funding gets tighter.
> If I would be in charge (OK I am not) of making funding decisions, I would
> begin by questioning certain administrative mechanisms and would aim to
> minimize the associated amount of work to an efficiently functional level.
> In my opinion administration of today also includes all IT-technologies and
> it's my feeling that a lot of resources are waisted in these domains. The
> vast turnover of hard- and software in these areas are usually coupled with
> continuous expenses and expensive personnel resources. I would generally try
> to emphasize on systems which are cleverly designed and which therefore last
> longer because they are easy to setup, operate and maintain.
> For this I decided to use Apple computers exclusively for everting I do in
> my professional domain of physics education. I am able to setup, operate and
> maintain all our computer resources on my own by just spending a little
> fraction of my time on related activities and with marginal help from
> external staff. Also I was able to keep the turnover of hardware on a very
> low level while automatically updating the software gradually in little
> steps to an efficiently functional present state.
> All that said, possibly the most efficient solution will be the one
> presented at the end of this little sketch ;-)
> Have fun
> Urs
> Urs Lauterburg
> Physics demonstrator
> Physikalisches Institut
> University of Bern
> Switzerland
>>Hi Taplers,
>>In these tough financial times we are being asked for our ideas as to
>>how the University can cut costs or possibly produce additional income.
>>I am beginning to sketch some stuff,
>>but will most likely be unaware of some of the ³bigger ideas² because
>>that has not been where I have worked over the decades.
>>If you would like to share any ideas, they would be most welcome, and I
>>would share them with Dept, Division and University ­ still retaining
>>your name as ³suggestor,² of course.
>>Also, I would be willing to provide links to leaders with whom you
>>could share directly, or you could just google them up.
>>Many thanks, Bill Norwood, U of MD at College Park

From Sat Aug 22 23:11:38 2009