Canadian studies, geography majors get ax

PLATTSBURGH - The State University of New York at Plattsburgh is suspending the Canadian studies and geography majors programs in the wake of a growing budget deficit.

University President Dr. John C. Ettling said the recent announcement the State Legislature will cut funding for SUNY campuses and hospitals in its 2011-12 budget by $170.1 million has added to the already troublesome situation for the SUNY Plattsburgh campus, which has been facing a $4.3 million deficit.

"Right now, we don't know what share of the most recent budget cut to SUNY this campus will be asked to bear," Ettling said. "From the scenarios we've been given, in the best scenario we could expect to see a $900,000 cut ... the worst, a $2.3 million cut."

The university has been making a series of cuts to its budget since fall 2008, said Ettling, to combat the financial challenges it has seen over the last three years. The cuts include the reduction of its workforce since 2008 equivalent to 60 full-time employees - not exactly 60 employees, noted Ettling - saving the university approximately $3.3 million in salaries alone.

However, overall cuts amount to approximately $3.9 million - nearly a half-million shy of the total deficit facing the university.

"It would be considerably larger if we hadn't already been cutting budgets for the last two and a half years," said Ettling.

The suspension of the bachelor's degree programs for Canadian studies and geography - which will amount to an estimated savings of $300,000 - was the result of retirements in each department and low enrollments, said Ettling. When reviewed by the university, the Canadian studies program had only four students enrolled toward a major, said Ettling.

Dr. Mark P. Richard, coordinator of the Canadian studies program, said the program actually started the current academic year with three students and recruited six more as the year progressed. The low numbers are hardly news to the university, Richard said.

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