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Questions and Answers

Q: When do these changes take effect?
A: Everything will not happen right away. The PSA plan spans two fiscal years. Some changes, such as establishing and staffing county service and business centers, will be implemented this fall. Some changes may take place as faculty members retire or grant funding runs out. Phasing out degree programs generally takes four years to allow currently enrolled students to complete their degree programs.

Q: How were faculty and staff involved in development of the plans?
A: Starting last October, the CAFLS dean held brown bag lunch sessions with department chairs, full professors, associate professors, assistant professors, lecturers/Extension associates and staff, respectively. CAFLS and PSA leaders met almost daily throughout the planning process, and updates were given at monthly CAFLS meetings with chairs and college Faculty Senators.

There were also three retreats with CAFLS department chairs to decide on college focus areas and to determine how to address budget cuts. All departments addressed questions posed at the April 5 leadership meeting and submitted answers in May. In addition, the dean held five listening sessions during the severance incentive programs to discuss the budget situation with faculty and staff.

PSA’s plan was developed with input from internal and external constituents, including the Extension Visioning Task Force, Extension Senate, State Advisory Council, CAFLS faculty and staff, S.C. Farm Bureau and agricultural commodity groups.

Q: Will the severance incentive programs and the restructuring plans be enough to avoid layoffs?

A: We have not had any layoffs to date; however, some faculty and staff will be reassigned or relocated. As has been the case in the past, one of our guiding principles is to make every effort to minimize negative impact on people by offering incentives and eliminating vacant or temporary positions first.

Q:  Will agriculture continue to be a major focus at Clemson?
A: Yes. We are focusing remaining PSA state dollars on core agriculture and natural resources programs, ensuring that county offices remain open, that regulatory services are maintained, and that we have sustainable research programs to support this vital economic sector. And by refocusing educational offerings into relevant and high-demand majors, we will better serve agriculture’s current and future needs.

Q: Will students still be able to major in agriculture?
A: Absolutely. In addition, students will still be able to complete the majors in which they are now enrolled and will be able to continue majoring in agriculture areas that will address major state and global challenges as we shift resources to areas of high student demand, such as veterinary science, biotechnology and environmental sustainability.

Q: What happens to tenure when faculty move to a new department?

A: They remain tenured.

Q: How were departments identified for merger or restructuring?
A: In determining which departments to merge or which programs to phase out, we looked at a number of factors, including current enrollment, number of applications, research funding and similar degree programs in other colleges. In this funding environment, we can’t afford to have duplicative programs if realignment makes pedagogical sense and offers increased opportunities for student recruitment and external support.

Q: What happens to students who are majoring in a degree program within a department that is being merged?

A: No students will be required to change majors unless they want to. Some degree programs will be phased out so that students who are already enrolled can complete those degree programs.

Q: What percentage of PSA’s budget is devoted to personnel costs?
A: About 75 percent, which is the main reason a budget cut of nearly 50 percent can’t be managed without impact on people.

Q: Why are some programs losing most or all of their PSA funding?

A: The priority for remaining PSA state dollars will be programs that directly serve agriculture and natural resources, which means that a lot of good programs that are valued by constituents will lose PSA funding. We are working to shift many programs to generated revenues or grants. But the reality is that losing almost half of our state PSA funding means that some programs may be substantially reduced or phased out.