Trustees on Friday affirmed their support for the Chicago Jazz Ensemble and Center for Black Music Research, while announcing the college will move forward with a controversial realignment plan unveiled earlier this month.
Trustees met Thursday to review reports from faculty and administration committees, as well as President Warrick Carter’s “Blueprint for Action,” a 92-page set of recommendations for revamping college operations ranging from admissions and academic programs to residence halls, said Vice President Warren Chapman, who was designated to head up a multi-year effort to implement the recommendations.
Carter, who has been criticized by students and faculty during the year-long “prioritization” process of evaluating college departments, will step down in August 2013.
The Jazz Ensemble and CBMR were among the more high-profile programs at the
arts school facing cuts under the Blueprint plan, which also would merge and realign academic departments, and even change how campus recycling is collected.
The Blueprint plan also mandates studies that will look at the college’s long-standing “generous admissions” policy, under which nearly any applicant with a high school diploma or GED is admitted.
“This is a two-year process that’s ahead of us,” Chapman said Friday, pointing out changes to department names and areas of study would not change the paths to a degree for current students. “I don’t think you’ll see things happen en masse.”
The ensemble and CBMR will see reductions in funding from the college, following suggestions in the Blueprint, but Chairman of the Board of Trustees Allen Turner noted that it was likely outside contributions could pick up the slack.
The Blueprint plan comes as Columbia faces enrollment declines after decades of growth that have seen the 122-year-old college go from near bankruptcy in the 1960s to a 2008 peak of more than 12,000 students.
Facing declining revenues as enrollment slipped almost 7 percent in recent years, Columbia has had to reallocate resources to keep tuition down, a problem faced by many public and private colleges.
“Our problems are not unique in higher education,” Turner said Friday. “This college is taking a major step. No other college that I’m aware of is taking a bottom-up approach, looking at every function, the way we have.”