Dean Falls reviews cuts to the College of Arts and Sciences at first SGA senate meeting


Abbie Kopelowitz

Dean Bill Falls of the College of Arts and Sciences spoke to SGA senators on Sept. 7 to discuss recent cuts made to the college.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 7:32 p.m. Sept. 23. 

Dean Bill Falls of the College of Arts and Sciences addressed the SGA senate at their first meeting of the semester to discuss the cuts in CAS. 

In the public forum, Falls discussed the student and faculty distress that resulted from his Dec. 2 memo on the proposed cuts to CAS – an email to UVM students and faculty revealing a plan to cut 12 majors, 11 minors and four master’s programs. 

The email caused outrage within the UVM community and played a part in sparking a ‘No Confidence’ movement against the Garimella administration, according to an April 13 Cynic article. Students felt confused about the implications of the cuts and faculty worried about job security. 

Members of the faculty union and UVM United Against Cuts have repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of Fall’s explanation, according to the article. However, Falls said the outrage in the spring was fueled by misunderstandings of the impact of the proposed changes. 

“A game of telephone occurs between students and it gets out of control,” Falls said at the SGA meeting. 

Sophomore and SGA senator Abigail Berkowitz asked Falls at the SGA meeting about the effects of these cuts on UVM professors. 

“There is no effect other than the fact that some of the faculty got moved to different departments in response to different class opportunities,” he said. 

However, three longtime senior lecturers in CAS did not have their contracts renewed for this year, according to a March 8 Cynic article. 

“​​I feel like he was just trying to cover his tracks at that meeting by telling us what we wanted to hear,” Berkowitz stated in a Sept. 12 email to the Cynic. I think he said what he needed to say, but I am still disappointed that these cuts had to happen in the first place.”  

SGA Senator and junior Maddie Henson asked Falls about UVM’s $9 million deficit and how UVM got to this number. 

“This number came from declining enrollments,” he said. “Our costs kept rising because every year we gave teachers pay raises, but we had fewer and fewer students.” 

This assertion contradicts the four year labor contract UVM and its full time faculty union signed on May 11, according to a May 11 Cynic article. 

UVM President Suresh Garimella stated in a spring press release that constraining salary increases is a necessitated expense-reduction strategy at UVM, according to the article. 

Henson also asked Falls how he and the administration can better communicate to staff, faculty and students moving forward. 

“I would love more guidance on that,” Falls said. “It was hard because when I put the December 2 memo out, the sky was falling – and there was a lot of concern and misunderstanding.”

Throughout the forum, Falls said the changes help keep UVM a thriving community and are crucial to the shifting ratio of student enrollment in certain majors.

“We have to get into this habit where students change and we need to adapt,” he said.