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SUNY Transformation Plan Eyes Cut Of 13 Majors

President Stephen Kolison addresses the crowd gathered in Rosch Recital Hall at the State University of New York at Fredonia on Wednesday. Photos by M.J. Stafford

SUNY Fredonia officials will recommend cutting 13 majors, university President Stephen Kolison said Wednesday.

Speaking at a Rosch Recital Hall jammed with faculty and staff, Kolison presented the cuts as necessary to tackle the school’s long-running structural deficit — which he said currently stands at around $10 million.

The programs cut include degree tracks in early childhood education from birth to grade 2, mathematics for grades five to nine, visual arts in ceramics, photography, sculpture and art history, French and its adolescence education program, Spanish and its adolescence education program, philosophy, sociology and industrial management. These represent 15% of all majors at the campus but have a combined enrollment of just 74 students, or 2.2% of the undergraduate population, Kolison said.

SUNY Fredonia plans to freeze entries of new students into the programs targeted for cuts, but wants to help the current students in them finish their degrees. There will be informational sessions for those students to help navigate the changes.

In announcing the plan, Kolison expressed his commitment to SUNY Fredonia and its potential for continued excellence going forward. “We need to make choices that we believe will, in the long term, put Fredonia on sound financial footing,” he said. “To do this requires strategically reviewing academic programs, their respective enrollments, and market trends on a regular basis, and then the necessary adjustments.”

Attendees discuss and react to proposed cuts at SUNY Fredonia, after University President Stephen Kolison announced them in a Wednesday speech.

Staff reductions are unknown at this time, Kolison continued. He denied a rumor that there is a blanket hiring freeze across the campus.

The atmosphere was tense at times in the hall as Kolison described his plan to cut the campus deficit, which also includes adding a few new programs such as a masters degree program in business administration. When the school president got to the cuts, a student screamed, “Are you kidding me? And you got money for an MBA?”

Kolison said changes to the school’s majors are necessary to keep SUNY Fredonia competitive in recruiting students. He said great universities “review and adjust their offerings to meet student demand.”

Kolison described a “road map” for cutting the campus deficit that includes three pillars: revenue generation, strategic reduction in expenditures and efficiency enhancement. There were few details other than the announcement of the cuts and the note of the new programs, another of which is in mental health counseling.

SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. offered his support for what the university is calling the True Blue Transformation.”Fredonia has a long history of providing academic opportunity and serving as an important asset to the community, and President Kolison has a roadmap to ensure a strong future for SUNY Fredonia,” King said. “President Kolison’s vision of investing in areas of growth while recognizing the need to meet student demand is prudent and necessary, and the campus community’s collaboration and partnership are essential. The president and the entire Fredonia campus community have my support in this endeavor.”

Frank Pagano, College Council chair, also offered his backing. “We are confident that SUNY Fredonia will not only overcome these obstacles but also emerge more resilient and well-prepared for the future,” he said. “As the entire campus actively participates in this crucial realignment process, we anticipate a strengthened foundation that will propel SUNY Fredonia forward.”

By the end of Kolison’s speech, however, some in the crowd were clearly frustrated. One person called out a cuss word when he declared, “This vision ensures a brighter future for Fredonia.”

A few people demanded to ask questions. Kolison did not take any, stating that there will be a page on the university website where people can do so.

“I feel your pain as well,” he said — which drew loud laughter. Many spectators also laughed when he spoke of moving forward with “empathy, dignity, integrity and grace.”

Kolison’s presentation was delayed by 20 minutes due to video streaming problems, adding to the tension in the room.

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