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To acquire wisdom, one must observe

What’s next on the chopping block at Brandeis?

We’re sure we all saw the email from last week. The one where President Ron Liebowitz, Provost Carol Fierke and Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Stewart Uretsky told us that our school is in financial trouble. To some more observant members of the Brandeis community, this isn’t as much of a surprise. We reported back in January that the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is running a deficit of $12 million on a $400 million budget. We also reported last semester that Brandeis closed its music PhD program, despite the program performing very well in several key metrics.

The second item there, the music program being cut, is what scares us the most here at The Hoot. That PhD program’s, one of Brandeis’ best and one that was vital to its founding (with Leonard Bernstein’s involvement playing a key role), shutdown was scary to many members of the Brandeis community. It had us at The Hoot, and many community members scratching our heads at the decision and wondering “if they’re willing to cut such an important and well-performing program, what’s next?”

With the recent email from our President, Provost and Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, we at The Hoot are even more worried about what our university’s administration will decide needs to go next.

In this email, we were told that Science 2A, the massive science center expansion that our university was planning to undertake, has been “paused.” We were also told that “annual staff performance review and merit increases and faculty merit increases” are being delayed, and that Brandeis’ administration is “optimistic that these actions will help to reduce the university’s overall deficit and serve as an effective first step to help manage additional cuts that will need to be made in order to balance the budget.”

We at The Hoot fear that these steps won’t do enough to prevent future cuts to the very programs that make Brandeis what it is. What if the History of Ideas Program, a wonderful, dynamic part of campus, is deemed unprofitable and shut down? What if the same happens to the Philosophy Department? To the Fine Arts Department? Or what if they try to sell off art from The Rose again

This is all, of course, speculation. But, Brandeis has demonstrated a willingness to cut programs that the community considers vital. We at The Hoot are afraid of what comes next. Maybe you should be too.

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