In a cost-cutting move, the physics chair has been cut from the science department. Jonathan Bratt, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics, will not be returning in the fall.
Del Doughty, Ph.D., interim senior vice president for academic affairs, said that this is a result of the tough budgets that the university has faced over the past few years.
He hopes that this will be proactive against a likely shortfall in revenues for the next academic year.
“We hope that if we take a cut-here-and-add-there kind of approach, it will be better than taking a forced cut-here-period, approach,” Doughty said.
“We cut it, but we haven’t cut physics from the curriculum. That’s an important distinction.”
The physics chair was brought before the academic concerns committee in part because no physics major is offered, Doughty said.
The minor in physics that is currently offered will be reviewed this spring.
Doughty said that the decision “stinks” and that he “hates it.”
However, he feels that it was a necessary decision for the future of the university.
“After consulting with others, I think that it falls in the category of tough but smart,” he said. “We’ve got to get out of this rut, and it’s up to us to do it.”
Doughty stressed that students will still be able to take physics classes despite the position cut.
However, Bratt said the move will negatively affect the students.
“I think there will definitely be an impact on students who take physics,” Bratt said. “There is a difference between having an adjunct and a full-time dedicated faculty member teach a class.”
Bratt was informed of the decision towards the end of last year and he said that the possibility of him staying and teaching both physics and math courses was talked about, but never formally offered.
He said that the current physics courses will be his last taught on campus and confirmed that he has started looking for other employment.
Doughty said the decision was about money and not personal, but understands why he was not interested in the proposed way of staying.
“He’s a physicist, and that is what he wants to do,” Doughty said. “He’s a real gentleman, and I hope he’s enormously successful.”
Bratt said he has had a mixed reaction to the news.
He said that he is disappointed for the university and thinks the science department will be negatively affected by losing one full-time professor.
However, he said he has taken the news as a new opportunity.
“If it’s time for me to go somewhere else, then I’m not upset about that,” he said. “I don’t feel any personal anger or grief in that sense. On a personal sense I was surprised but I kind of view it as an exciting opportunity.”