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Clemson implements PSA, College Restructuring

Clemson University will implement a series of budget reduction and restructuring strategies to help manage state funding cuts and facilitate long-range strategic planning in its Public Service Activities (PSA) division and College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences (CAFLS).

Clemson faculty and staff campus-wide are engaged in a planning process to set priorities and goals for the next 10 years.

“The objective of this planning is not simply to manage budget cuts. It’s to make
fundamental changes that will allow Clemson to be successful in a radically different funding environment – as a more independently-funded public university,” said President James F. Barker.  The timetable calls for a long-range plan to be completed by spring 2011, but Barker said strategies can and will be implemented sooner if necessary.

“There is a need to move forward with a number of actions in PSA and CAFLS in order for these units to manage current year budget cuts and – more importantly — develop meaningful departmental plans,” he said.

PSA, a separately funded state agency that provides agriculture and natural resources research, Extension and regulatory programs, has lost nearly half of its state funding over the past two years. Funding levels are now about the same as they were in 1985, not adjusted for inflation. PSA receives no revenue from tuition.

“Our goal is to ensure that we have a viable, statewide PSA organization that has the capacity to fulfill Clemson’s land-grant mission and serve the state’s #1 economic sector – agriculture and natural resources,” said John Kelly, vice president for agriculture, public service and economic development. 

PSA will focus its remaining state dollars on core agriculture and natural resources programs, realign support staff in county and research center offices across the state, and shift non-core programs to alternative funding sources. No county Extension offices or research and education centers will be closed at this time. The PSA plan will be phased in over a two-year period.

The plans incorporate responses to two voluntary severance incentive programs offered earlier this year, which yielded savings but also left staffing voids in some areas. To manage farms and equipment, administer off-campus sites and maintain critical research and Extension positions tied to agriculture and natural resources, PSA will make a limited number of strategic re-hires, which will require reductions in other areas. PSA will close its aquaculture facility when grant funding expires, continue to downsize its animal farms to the levels needed to support existing research and teaching programs, and reduce or eliminate temporary positions.

To help offset PSA funding cuts to CAFLS and facilitate the college’s strategic planning, an institutional reorganization will reassign some faculty members to other colleges, realign departments, and streamline and refocus educational offerings into relevant and high-demand majors to accommodate sustainable academic degree programs. Degree program changes will be phased in to accommodate currently enrolled students.

CAFLS will have four focus areas: food and packaging systems, sustainable agriculture, human and veterinary biomedical sciences and the environment.

The organizational structure will be one school — Environment and Sustainable Agriculture — and four departments: animal and veterinary sciences, biological sciences, food and packaging systems, and genetics and biochemistry.