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More TA cuts possible

BY DANNY VALENTINE | OCTOBER 02, 2009 7:20 AM

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UI officials said more TA positions may be cut in response to ongoing state budget woes.

But it’s too early to tell how many or what the scope of the cuts would look like.

There are still numerous financial factors, such as the effect of phased retirement and what — if any — the state’s midyear budget cut looks like, said UI Provost Wallace Loh.

In the meantime, UI colleges are preparing various budget scenarios in response to potential cuts.

The UI has lost 150 teaching- and research-assistant positions so far this year, said John Keller, dean of the Graduate College.

“What happens next year remains to be seen,” he said.

Bill Peterson, the president of the Campaign to Organize Graduate Students, said the union expects about the same number of cuts next school year. Grad students fill approximately 1,800 teaching- and research-assistant positions.

Peterson, who heads UE-COGS Local 896, said he hopes there is some other option beyond cutting student positions to make up any budget deficit.

“I think there is a larger cost involved when they get rid of that many people,” he said. “We feel like it’s detrimental to the university to get rid of that many grad students.”

Peterson said most graduate students he has talked with are worried for two reasons: They are concerned they won’t have the necessary funding to continue school, and they are concerned they will have more students to teach.

He said the union is carefully monitoring the number of hours each grad student works so they don’t go over their maximum.

Keller said graduate education is absolutely affected by the loss of assistantships. The fewer there are, the less the university is able to provide professional and research development, he said, which helps to make students competitive in the job market.

The school will determine how much money each college needs to cut, but each college will decide how it wants to cut those funds.

It’s difficult to know what is going to happen in the coming months, but the Iowa budget picture got a bit gloomier on Tuesday.

Revenue throughout the state decreased by roughly $141 million — about 9.1 percent — compared with the same time period last year, according to the Iowa Legislative Services Agency.

This year, each UI college had a budget reduction of approximately 7 percent.

Associate Engineering Dean Alec Scranton said it’s a possibility that the college will have fewer TAs.

“TAs certainly play an important role at the university, but the budget situation is real, and we have to deal with it,” he said. “I am sure we will have quality classes.”

Loh iterated the need to maintain top-notch education at the UI.

“I have just one policy: The students cannot be hurt. You cannot make the students suffer from the cuts,” he said.


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