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Nursing and education consider pros, cons of cuts

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Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2009 12:00 am

UF has asked the College of Education and the College of Nursing to submit proposals presenting the pros and cons of cutting their undergraduate education programs.

Those are the only two colleges that have been asked by UF to present such proposals, said UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes.

UF Provost Joe Glover wrote in an e-mail that both of the colleges have focused more on graduate education in recent years, and they were asked to examine the possibility of cutting undergraduate programs because of UF's desire to focus more on graduate education and research, which was affirmed by the Board of Trustees at its annual retreat Friday.

Sikes said the educations offered at both colleges could also be earned at other public universities in Florida and potentially at Santa Fe College.

Larry Lansford, College of Education spokesman, said the college has shifted toward a focus in graduate education.

Only 556 of the more than 1,800 students in the college are enrolled in majors that have an undergraduate component, according to Lansford. Undergraduates currently enrolled would be able to finish their degrees, he said. The majors, elementary education and early childhood education, also include a fifth year of study that culminates in a master's degree.

But just because the college has been focusing more on graduate education doesn't mean it's eager to give up its undergraduate programs.

"It's something we've been doing for over a hundred years," Lansford said.

A letter addressed to UF officials and signed by 57 faculty members from the college also urges UF not to cut the programs, arguing they are essential and that the college is best known for them.

A Facebook group called "Save Undergraduate Education at UF," which opposes the elimination of undergraduate programs at UF had nearly 700 members as of Wednesday night.

Lansford said it is not yet known how much cutting the college's undergraduate programs could save. The college had a budget of about $29 million in 2007-2008, he said.

He said UF hasn't yet decided if it will cut the programs and added that UF has also asked the college to submit a proposal that would shrink the undergraduate programs, with a possible emphasis on more in-demand areas such as math and science education.

The College of Nursing, which had a budget of almost $13 million in 2007-2008, not including grants and private funds, has also been shifting its focus to graduate education, said Tracy Wright, the college's spokeswoman.

She said the college has not been planning to eliminate the programs, however, and said she didn't know how much the move could save.

The college has 394 graduate students and 340 undergraduates. Another 333 freshmen and sophomores are hoping to get into the undergraduate program when they become juniors, she said.

Both Lansford and Wright said they couldn't say if professors would be laid off if undergraduate programs were cut.

Each stressed the fact that no decisions have been made yet.

"It's one of many alternatives to deal with the budget cuts," Wright said.

Still, some students are not hesitating to make their stance against the proposed program cuts known.

Kali Davis, a graduate student in the College of Education, said a candlelight vigil will be held in front of Norman Hall on March 4 at 7:30 p.m. Davis said there will be about 200 battery-operated candles at the event.

"We are in mourning for public education," she said.

Welcome to the discussion.