By Rebekah Devorak | Opinions Editor
Duquesne University announced that it would be reallocating $1.5 million of its Academic Affairs budget across campus. This means that some schools would be receiving funding cuts, where the money would be removed from one school’s budget and placed into another school or program on campus instead.
For example, according to Duquesne spokeswoman Bridget Fare, funding will be removed from the liberal arts college and the law school and will be funneled into the nursing school and the biomedical engineering program.
It’s one thing to reallocate funds on campus when one school or two is showing a dire need for financial help. In this case, by all means, remove money from one college’s operating education budget to assist the other school’s programs so that students don’t suffer academically.
But I highly doubt that this is the case for the nursing school or for the biomedical engineering program. In fact, U.S. News and World Report just announced that Duquesne’s School of Nursing was ranked 67th overall in its “Best Graduate Schools” ranking, 17 spots higher than the previous year. STEM jobs ranked Duquesne as one of the best schools for its science, technology, engineering and math programs.
Those don’t sound like parts of the campus that are struggling financially to me.
Given this, it is ridiculous that the McAnulty School of Liberal Arts is going to take a $500,000 budget hit — one-third of the entire budget reallocation — when it comprises only one-tenth of the colleges on campus. According to Duquesne’s website, there are approximately 2,000 students that are enrolled in the liberal arts school, comprising over one-fifth of the total number of students that attend Duquesne.
So why should the McAnulty School of Liberal Arts be the one to take the brunt of the budget cut? Why should liberal arts students have to have resources ripped from them when they make up a considerable part of the campus student body? Are the tuition dollars that these students pay to this university somehow inferior than those that are paid in other schools across campus? Money is money. So how are they somehow less-deserving of a quality education?
This is even more ironic when you consider that Duquesne vows to commit itself to “excellence in liberal … education” in its mission statement.
Science and medical programs, in both high schools and colleges across the nation, are incredibly popular right now. There’s a forceful push for getting students involved in science, technology, engineering and math programs in the current moment that is reminiscent of education trends during the 1960s space race.
However, just because the sciences’ popularity is growing does not mean interest in the liberal arts field is waning. These are not mutually-exclusive ideas, though they always seem to be treated as such — and unfairly so. According to the Association of American Colleges & Universities, over 9.6 million people have degrees in the humanities or social sciences.
A 2016 Forbes article argues that a degree in liberal arts is just as important as a degree in science. A liberal arts education encourages students to have a multi-faceted view of the world and to see problems through different perspectives. It breeds critical thinking skills and strong communication skills through reading and writing. It flames creativity.
How are these not important qualities in today’s world? How are these skills deserving of budget cuts? Students should not have to chance an inferior education with lackluster funding simply because they are not interested in chemistry or nursing.
Duquesne is ranked highly for some of its liberal arts programs according to U.S. News and World Report, including English and philosophy. If the university continues to shred McAnulty’s budget year after year, these rankings won’t happen. A school can’t compete if they don’t have the resources to do so.
And resources? They cost money.
The McAnulty School of Liberal Arts and the students enrolled there do not deserve to have $500,000 of their academic budget taken away.