Volume 20, Number 2: October 2001
From the Chair
Although our fall break is over -- an indication that half the semester has been completed -- I still find it very difficult to believe that the new academic year has even begun. I suppose that part of my discombobulation lies in the fact that the department still has no official budget. From the beginning of the academic year, however, the department has been told on numerous occasions that the budget (whatever it might be) is going to be less than it was last year.
This past week the university, along with other state agencies, received word that Governor Easley has requested a 4% reversion of funds because of shortfalls in the state's September revenue collections. Initial reports were that ECU would have to send almost $4 million dollars back to the state, but recent statements by Chancellor Muse put that figure at more than $5 million. Chancellor Muse is hopeful that Governor Easley may lighten the burden being placed on higher education, since a significant portion of higher education's budget is devoted to salaries; hence, higher education has fewer truly discretionary funds at its disposal than do other state agencies.
It will be a while before we will know whether Chancellor Muse's desires are met. From my perspective, I just wish that the department would be given a budget; knowing how much money we have available (even if it is not very much) is better than having no budget information available at all, for the lack of information makes it impossible to plan. As matters now stand, I find it very difficult to make commitments for even the most minor of purchases; financial support for any new programs or initiatives is impossible.
Unfortunately, our university is not alone in facing this financial insecurity. As a member of a listserv for the Association of Departments of English, I receive daily messages from chairs of English departments throughout the United States that detail budget reductions being adopted at both private and public institutions. It's quite clear that the weakness of the economy, coupled with the many problems occasioned by the terrorist attacks on our country, is greatly affecting academic budgets throughout the nation.
After the terrorist attacks, I know that we all wish very much for life to get back to normal. Since I have so much difficulty with believing that the academic year is even underway, I suggest that we simply go back to August 15 and start the academic year all over again.
If only we could.
Copyright © 2001, ECU Department of English.