Cuts could hamper faculty, student research

By Jeremy Thompson, Staff Writer

Cuts in state funding on campus are projected to a have a negative impact on research projects at the U, for both undergraduate students and faculty.

Jill Baeder, associate director for the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, said that any reduction in funds will have an impact on U students.

“I think the biggest effect will be seen in the increase in competition among students applying for funds,” Baeder said. “Although we try to give every dollar we receive back to students, cuts in funding cause us to compromise on how many students we can help.”

According to Baeder, UROP funds 215 undergraduates in every discipline across campus. The projected cuts would impact not only research-oriented departments such as the life sciences, but every department on campus.

“Of course less research dollars have to hurt the university and students in particular,” said Amanda Barusch, a professor in the College of Social Work and its associate dean of research. “Whether it is a loss of wages, benefits, or even opportunities for students, the research community will always feel any cut in funding.”

Barusch said that although the U is able to attract a large amount of funding at the federal level, a failure of support at a state level could undermine the effectiveness of faculty and of their research in addition to the impact on students.

Thomas Parks, vice president for research, said that faculty could feel the effects in ways most people fail to realize.

“Most faculty receive a large portion of their salary from state funding,” Parks said. “With a cut in funding, it could mean less money to pay auxiliary faculty. This means that tenure-track faculty will have less time to spend conducting research and will spend more time teaching in the classroom.”

Parks said that although this would be good for the development of students’ classroom experiences, it would impact the progress of hands-on opportunities and research projects currently under way. He also said that an extended cut in budget funds would impact the U’s ability to attract leading researchers in each of their fields.

“I would be surprised if a sustained cut in funds did not produce fewer research faculty and eventually even a freeze in hiring,” Parks said.

Barusch said the impact of losing even one faculty member could have far-reaching implications, both in the recruitment of postdoctoral students and in sustaining research that is currently being conducted.

“Students deserve the opportunity to make the most of their college experience,” Baeder said. “Programs like UROP that help students participate in research will no longer be able to help as many students as before. That is just the reality of having less money.”

[email protected]