Dickinson State University forwarded the final version of its budget reduction proposal to the chair of the State Board of Higher Education on Monday after making a few key changes.

On Jan. 16, Interim President Stephen Easton released the initial budget reduction proposal. The plan would balance the university's budget, which reached a shortfall of over $7 million for the current biennium.

Included in the proposal were the elimination of 14 positions and six academic programs: Bachelor of Arts programs in Spanish, English and art; and Bachelor of Science programs in mathematics, art entrepreneurship and art education.

After an open forum with faculty, staff, students and community members, Easton met with the department chairs to discuss the possibility of keeping the Bachelor of Arts in English and Bachelor of Science in mathematics programs.

Since the bachelor's degrees in English education and mathematics education were left untouched, the departments overseeing them were able to overlap curricula between the education degree and the standalone degree in their subject area to the extent that it became feasible to keep them. Easton commends the departments for their work, without whom he said retaining the two degrees would not be possible.

The Spanish major and minor will no longer be eliminated, but rather inactivated. Easton said the change allows the program to lie dormant for up to three years, during which time the school can work on recruiting students for it.

In determining which programs to cut, Easton looked for the programs that, if eliminated, would affect the least number of students.

In the budget proposal, he cites a policy adopted by the faculty senate in April 2019 regarding resource allocations among academic programs, which can be found in the DSU faculty handbook.

In the proposal, Easton writes: "It lists several categories of information that should be collected, reviewed, and evaluated when resource allocation and re-allocation decisions are made. The categories listed are (1) the number of majors and minors in the program, (2) credit hour production in the program, (3) cost of the program, (4) centrality of the program (to the mission of DSU, to the region, and to the concept of a university), and (5) “What is the total number of undecided students for the past three years?”"

He said that he relied mostly on factors one and two.

"Both factors (1) and (2) involve the question of how many students are involved in a particular program. Thus, a major driving force behind the proposed cuts outlined below, especially those involving elimination of currently occupied positions, is how many students will be affected by the cuts," Easton wrote.

Some of the information Easton and the budget reduction committee reviewed included graduation numbers. For the programs that are to be eliminated or inactivated, their numbers are as follows:

B.A. Spanish2
B.S. Art Education11
B.A. Art12
B.S. Art Entrepreneurship322

Because the Spanish instructor is a tenure-track professor, they will remain at DSU for the rest of this academic year and all of the 2020-21 academic year; therefore, the Spanish program will become inactive in the summer of 2021.

Under the initial proposal, 23 students had declared majors in a program that was to be eliminated. Easton could not say by the time of publication exactly how many fewer students would be affected now that some of the programs were saved.

As a result of the changes, the Fine and Performing Arts Department will be merged with the Language and Literature Department. The tentative name for the newly formed department is the Humanities Department.

The budget proposal is now awaiting approval by the State Board of Higher Education and the Chancellor of the North Dakota University System.