Cuts lead to crammed health classes

By Andreas Rivera, Staff Writer

As a health class ended Friday morning, nearly 180 students got out of their seats, attempting to leave the jam-packed classroom where some students said they felt like sardines in a can.

Heather Hilton, a senior in exercise and sports science, said that in her health class, the teacher knows a few select students but can’t assist the majority of the students on a daily basis because there are too many for one instructor.

“It’s especially hard on a test day,” Hilton said, when almost all students signed up for the class attend and take every available seat.

Nutrition and health classes that are already filled to the brim can expect more students next semester.

Although the U already received a 4 percent budget cut Fall Semester from the Utah State Legislature, the College of Health is dealing with an additional 2.8 percent cut. Health Sciences Vice President Lorris Betz announced the college would receive the additional cut last week, and the college might also have to deal with an expected 7.5 percent cut the Legislature predicted at the beginning of the 2009 Legislative session. James Graves, dean of the College of Health, said he and his colleagues in the health sciences field expect the cuts to be spread to all colleges and departments but hope that more will be dispersed to the departments that can afford it.

“In the College of Health, we are going to do everything to preserve the quality of our programs and the training and education of students,” Graves said.

He said the college plans to cut the number of classes available to students and cram more students into classes that are already full.

The College of Health is one of the largest on campus and still growing with 1,900 students already this semester.

The college was planning to hire more faculty to drop class size numbers, but instead, the opposite will occur.

Graves said they won’t be hiring any more adjunct professors, which will force the college to decrease the number of sections for each class and increase enrollment in the remaining ones.

Already, departments such as nutrition and physical therapy have increased class sizes by several extra students.

Graves said they’ve considered asking certain staff members to teach extra classes, and the dean himself has volunteered to teach an extra course. The college might also have to increase the number of online and hybrid courses that are offered.

Rachel Jones, a nutrition professor, said that even though funding is likely to go down, certain areas will be protected and major programs will not be cut from the college. Graves said that many programs, especially in nutrition, will be protected from cuts because they are clinic-oriented and require intensive supervision, including things like required internships.

Even in a worst-case scenario, classes and necessary programs will not go away completely. In the case that the U requests additional cuts, the dean and his council of department chairs and budget advisors would strategize and determine what programs could be cut by examining their cost and demand. Programs can also be combined, such as classes in health and physical therapy.

Graves said he doesn’t think salaries will be lowered. He said the college will also try to avoid shutting down during Spring Break, as Utah State University is doing this year.

Although the college is prepared for additional cuts, Graves said they are worried because they don’t know where or when the cuts will end with the economy the way it is. Graves said the U estimates that another 11.25 to 15 percent cut will hit campus by 2010.

“I don’t want to take a major step backwards (by cutting programs),” Graves said.

Depending on how hard the U is hit by budget cuts in the next couple years, the college might have to.

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Greg Harlow

Matt Peters opens his laptop as other students take their seats in their classroom in Hyper N 236. The nutrition and health departments at the U are experiencing and overcrowding and expect it to get worst with budget cuts.