College will keep undergraduate programs; preliminary budget plan announced

Posted March 23, 2009


March 23, 2009



Posted March 23, 2009

A college-wide forum held Friday, March 20, to discuss the College of Education’s preliminary budget-reduction plan got off to a surprisingly upbeat start when Dean Catherine Emihovich announced that the college no longer had to consider eliminating its undergraduate teacher-preparation programs.

“I met with UF Provost Joe Glover on Wednesday (March 18) and the options for eliminating our undergraduate programs are now officially off the table,” Emihovich told the crowd of about 100 faculty, students and staff in the Norman Hall auditorium. Her announcement prompted applause and joyful shrieks particularly from education students present.

As part of UF’s budget-reduction process, Glover last month asked the college to submit a separate report analyzing the pros and cons of eliminating its two undergraduate programs—elementary education and early childhood education—and focusing more on graduate education and research. The two programs constitute the undergraduate element of the college’s renowned, five-year ProTeach program.

Some College of Education faculty and students had protested the undergraduate cuts with petitions and a letter-writing campaign, and students held a candlelight vigil outside Norman Hall to show their opposition. Dozens of alumni also reacted with e-mails and phone calls urging that ProTeach be spared.

Emihovich said the college may still have to reduce enrollment in undergraduate programs, but said that option is not part of the current budget-planning process.

“Our undergraduate programs will continue, but they may have a smaller footprint,” she said. “We need to evaluate how elementary and early childhood education fit in with UF’s plans to strengthen graduate education across the university.”

Preliminary budget plan announced

While switching to a “graduate-only” college is off the table, Emihovich presented a first-draft plan calling for a 10 percent budget cut that would slice about $1.4 million from the college’s current yearly allocation of $14.3 million in recurring state funds. The 10 percent reduction is the “worse-case scenario” that all UF colleges have been instructed to prepare for.  (An online link to the dean’s PowerPoint presentation of the budget plan is available on the college’s home Web page—under “News & Notices”—at

The proposal calls for closing the graduate degree programs in educational psychology beginning in the fall. Students currently in the programs will be able to finish their degrees.

Additional restructuring calls for merging the higher education administration program with the college’s educational leadership program and offering two concentration areas–one in higher education administration and another in K-12 education leadership. The principal certification program in education leadership will remain unchanged. Three existing Ph.D. programs in counselor education also would be consolidated into one doctoral degree, with no change to the master’s and specialist programs.

Two college faculty members and two administrative staff face possible layoffs. The college is not releasing their identities or positions to protect their privacy, since the layoffs would not become official until UF’s final budget is approved.

Rather than make equal cuts across the board, Emihovich said the largest cuts would occur in academic programs lacking enough faculty to teach the required courses or those with shrinking enrollment. “We must provide ample resources to those areas that are most central to the teaching and research missions of the college and the university,” she said.

Emihovich said college administration made sure to consider the concerns, insights and suggestions of faculty during the budget-planning exercise. Emihovich and her executive staff met with department chairs and worked closely with the college’s Faculty Policy Council, which conducted faculty surveys, formed a budget affairs committee and held meetings to help weigh the pros and cons of eliminating the undergraduate programs and provide budgetary recommendations to the dean.

Emihovich said faculty, students, staff and alumni can continue to provide input through Monday, March 30, before the college plan is finalized. The budget affairs committee is expected to meet and collect faculty comments and anyone can post comments online by following the Budget Discussion links on the college’s home page.

All UF colleges must submit their final plans April 1 to the provost. UF President Machen is expected to release a campus-wide budget plan April 15, but Machen and the UF Board of Trustees will wait to draft a final version until lawmakers pass the state budget by May 1, when the current legislative session ends.  The process could stretch well into May before colleges learn their final budget amount.

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       Catherine Emihovich, Dean, College of Education,

       Larry Lansford, COE News & Communications; 352.392.0726, ext. 266;