President Responds to Inaccurate Reports of Budget 'Hit List'

In a Feb. 1 letter to the University Community, President Hitchcock quickly responded to that day’s local media reports which misrepresented the University’s own campus decision-making process in response to "Rethinking SUNY."

"Stories that appeared today in some media — that there is a ‘hit list’ of baccalaureate programs to be eliminated, including eight here at Albany — are misleading and inaccurate," the President wrote. "I want to assure you, first, that there are no plans to eliminate the programs identified and, second, that any decisions regarding the scope of Albany’s academic offerings will be made on this campus only after consultation with schools and colleges, academic departments and University Governance."

The headline of the Times Union article, "UAlbany draws ‘hit list’ of targeted programs," inaccurately implied that the University had suggested program cuts in teacher-education programs in earth science, biology, French, and mathematics and in bachelor’s degree programs in medical technology, women’s studies, chemistry and mathematics. In fact, the list, released by Senate Minority Leader Martin Connor — who opposes such cuts — was not generated with University at Albany participation but by SUNY Central Administration.

"The campus’s response to SUNY in October made clear that we would not support elimination of any of these programs," writes Hitchcock. "Our rationale was based on just-completed reports from the academic chairs describing the nature and strength of all academic programs as part of our budget planning process." SUNY officials stressed that the list, which included 129 programs that might be cut state-wide, was leaked to Senator Connor, and the Rethinking SUNY process is still ongoing. "This process is continuing," said SUNY spokesman Ken Goldfarb. "SUNY planners are working with individual campus presidents, provosts and deans to identify programs that might be eliminated."

"It is most unfortunate to have this process politicized," he added.

President Hitchcock once again acknowledged, as she did in her Sept. 13 address to the faculty, that "in the present environment, we must be prepared to justify the programs that we define as central to our mission," but that the University has told SUNY Central that it would not support elimination of any of the programs named.

"Again, I want to assure you that all decisions regarding changes in academic offerings will be made following consultation with appropriate academic units and University governance bodies," the President’s letter concluded.

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