At the University of South Carolina, president Harris Pastides has a $39 million dollar budget deficit. That sounds horrifying to those of us with $39 dollars in our savings accounts. However, It’s exactly 4.5 percent of the $866 million dollar 2008-2009 budget for Pastides’s university system. It’s more dramatic to say $39 million dollars, though, right? Try the 4.5 percent line on a friend: “Joe, my God, I’m grappling with a 4.5 percent budget deficit.” See if you get tea and sympathy, or if you get a smart smack on the side of your head. If Pastides had gone in front of the media and bitched that he was grappling mightily with a (groan) 4.5 percent deficit, someone (say, maybe, those in the state legislature who voted to cut $39 million from the state’s allocation to the University system) might have questioned him much more sharply. Now, however, the heat is on the pols who made the cuts.
To deal with his money woes, Pastides announced to the good people of South Carolina that he’s cutting 25 percent of the university’s part-time contracts. So, next Spring, 100 adjuncts won’t be rehired. “Good Gracious Almighty” (I can hear people muttering now), “times are tough when 25 percent of the faculty go!” It’s just that, well, the University of South Carolina employs close to 1,500 temporary faculty. So when Pastides says he’s cutting, gulp, 25 percent, he’s kind of playing with numbers.
Don’t think those 100 adjunct faculty will add up to $39 million dollars. Not by a loooooong shot. Pastides has trimmed 30 tenured faculty through retirements and buy-outs, and axed just under 200 staff. In a sign of just how dire the situation is, Pastides has said he may have to close one of the USC’s 8 campuses and may have to close some degree programs.