A& E Editor
In many ways operating a college is equivalent to operating a household—-5,738 undergraduate and graduate students living together with faculty and staff serving as their guideposts to help teach students the tools necessary to flee the nest.
But like every household, Keene State College has challenges that interrupt the smooth routine the college is used to.
With a recent budget cut, the college has had to lose staff and faculty members, increase class sizes, terminate positions, and put into effect pay cuts.
“If you’re on limited income or your rent increases, just because your rent increases doesn’t mean your income increases, so what are you going to do? You have to pay your rent so that means that something else has to give. In many ways the college is operating in the same fashion,” Tom Richard of the Registrar’s Office said.
However, this recent budget cut has left some Keene State College students without professors they look up to, to guide them through the transition from high school to college, and from college to the real world.
“What’s really being argued about using this analogy is what’s going to give. The adjuncts feel it shouldn’t be them,” Richard said.
This budget cut has not only left some without jobs, but students also said that they feel it has changed the face of the college.
Junior Seth Kaiser said, “Right now I see the future of KSC really being something where the school has become not so much an institution of free thought or higher learning, but more of this industrial education where we are bringing students in and we are relying on faculty who may or may not be the best.”
However, students have more power than they are aware of when it comes to deciding the future of the college.
Richard said that when students sign up for classes during the registration period, the enrollment of classes is taken into consideration when deciding which classes to keep and which ones to cut.
“We have 3,444 students registered for fall as we speak. The average seat per student is four. That suggests that if students wanted four seats, 16 credits, definitely a full load, they were able to get it,” Richard said.
The amount of students enrolled in each class plays a role in deciding the amount of faculty needed to staff every section.
“We have 641 students who should have registered for fall who haven’t. That’s a real part of this problem because the deans are forced to look at section enrollments, as they exist today because of contractual issues and other notification issues. They are required to make decisions about what sections they are going to run and which are going to be cancelled. Right now they are being forced to do that when 641 students are missing,” Richard said.
Of the 641 students who are not registered, 239 of them are seniors, Richard said.
He said that students play a significant role in determining where the college can be flexible.
And one of the places the college possesses flexibility is in the number of adjuncts it has because the college has to react, plan, and predict ahead of time.
“You cannot let go a full-time tenure track faculty member, you can reassign individuals, and with adjunct faculty the institution has more flexibility. People need to realize that the institution is under tremendous financial pressure,” Richard said.
However, for students, adjuncts are the guideposts that help nurture the development of their education. Kaiser said that with the departure of some of the adjuncts, the college is losing assets that will be difficult to replace or mimic.
Dean for School of Sciences and Social Sciences Gordon Leversee said, “Adjuncts also contribute a great deal. They often have special expertise, which helps enrich the program. They also are, in most cases, experienced teachers who do it because they love to teach.”
“Adjunct faculty is subject to more scrutiny because they aren’t tenured. Not to say that tenured professors aren’t subject to scrutiny, but they are under more pressure to bring a higher caliber profession of work because they don’t have a guaranteed position from year-to-year,” Kaiser said.
“I think a lot of these people have been in a lot of institutions and bring in great ideas that maybe you won’t see from somebody who has been at Keene for a great time,”Kaiser said.
However, Student Body President Colin Daly said that the perspectives students and the administration possess differ when it comes to the college’s financial constraints.
Daly said, “I think for me, from a student’s perspective, I think it’s hard because even in my role in Student Government, I can’t say that I fully understand the situation.” Daly continued, “There are so many different perspectives on it, but from my viewpoint and from the students’ viewpoint, students don’t want to see jobs get cut on this campus,” Daly said.
“We understand what it’s like to be in the working world, we want to get that job, and we don’t want to see jobs cut. But we all understand that we are going through tough times, but when it comes down to it, students have to pay more when fees and tuition go up,” Daly said.
Students will not only see a difference in their tuition bill, but they will also see changes applied to the dynamics of the classes they choose to take.
Richard said that adjusting classroom capacities is one way the college has been accommodating students to meet their needs.
Richard said that on average, adjunct faculty tend to have larger class capacities.
But for some students, class capacity is not the only problem they are seeing with budget cuts.
“I think a lot of students are going to have a lot of frustration getting into classes they need to take. As a result, you might see students that aren’t able to graduate on time. Also, you are going to see a less variety of classes so your options of what you’re learning is reduced,” Kaiser said.
“Most of our classrooms are built to house 30 or 35 students. I wouldn’t want to see the classroom get any bigger than that,” Daly commented.
Daly continued, “It means more stress on the professors which means we won’t be able to get that great one-on-one with the teacher and we won’t be able to get that great interaction and interpersonal communication with the college and the administration that we are hoping to get,” Daly said.
This modification in the structure of the college, faculty, and administration, is associated with the change from a three-credit to four-credit curriculum, Leversee said.
The change to a four-credit curriculum required more sections resulting in an increase in the amount of adjunct faculty staffed, Leversee said.
But over the years, the staffing patterns have changed.
“The change in the staffing patterns for the college and what has led to the reduction of the numbers of adjuncts is really part of a long-term commitment to more tenure track faculty,” he stated.
Leversee continued, “We’ve added that faculty. We’ve necessarily needed to shift dollar resources from our adjunct expenditures because faculty is not teaching those courses,” Leversee said.
Despite the increase in tenure track faculty and the decrease in adjunct faculty, Leversee said that the adjunct faculty would still be central to the college.
“We are clearly going to have adjunct faculty for the far foreseeable future, the question will be how many and what their teaching loads are,” he said.
This transitional period is one that will disrupt the smooth routine the college is used to, and alter the faculty and administration who are overseeing the students—guiding them into the future—the future that the real world presents.
But over time, the college will have to tighten up its household.
This will require the college as a whole to make sacrifices—sacrifices some students said would change the education they were promised when they first enrolled into KSC.
Kaiser said, “When you apply to any college, especially Keene, when you tour, you are promised small classroom sizes, but more than anything you are promised a well-rounded education, but if you cut faculty that have dissenting viewpoints or you don’t see as necessary, or simply because they aren’t tenured, do we really have a well-rounded education? It seems like we have a conceived curriculum if we do that.”
Sam Norton can be contacted at