The future of Chiron Studies remains uncertain. After a meeting last week with Portland State administration, Chiron Studies Director Rozzell Medina said that a decision on program funding had not been re
The future of Chiron Studies remains uncertain.
After a meeting last week with Portland State administration, Chiron Studies Director Rozzell Medina said that a decision on program funding had not been reached.
“There are a lot of students who are really concerned that this program will go away and that the administration will have managed to kill the program by not funding it,” Medina said.
Funding for the long-standing program that allows students to design and teach courses not offered by the university was discontinued in June 2012. Since then, volunteer coordinators and supporters of the program have lobbied the administration for renewed funding.
“The meeting didn’t go as we hoped, because we still aren’t guaranteed a budget for next year,” Medina said.
Medina met with Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sona Andrews on Thursday to discuss the future of the program. Although long-term funding options were explored, how the program will be funded in the immediate future remains undecided.
Andrews is still gathering information before giving a response to Chiron Studies coordinators, said her assistant, Cathy Knight. The provost declined comment before next week.
“I understand that there is information she wants to research following our meeting,” Medina said. Andrews plans to give Chiron coordinators some information by Friday, he explained. “Hopefully by that time we will have a guarantee of a budget.
“[The provost] wants to find out where exactly the tuition revenue will go,” Medina said.
Though former Provost Roy Koch cited budgetary concerns as a reason for discontinuing Chiron Studies funding, Medina said that the tuition brought in by the program vastly exceeds its budget. This concern was not fully resolved during the meeting, Medina said.
“[It was addressed] to an extent. There’s a lot of conversation around where tuition raised by student credit hours goes,” Medina said. “That conversation is convoluting a lot of conversation around budget and creating an atmosphere of uncertainty.
“It’s a really unfortunate situation,” Medina continued. “While we understand that there are budget cuts all over the university, those budget cuts are usually in the 2 to 4 percent range. A program that our students really love and value was cut by 100 percent without an adequate explanation of why that happened.”
Medina did not get the sense that Andrews was particularly supportive of the program itself, but he remained hopeful that other members of the administration will help garner support. Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Success Sukhwant Jhaj, who was also present at the meeting, showed support toward the program, according to Medina.
“I think that our leaders are hopeful that there is potential to work with [Jhaj toward] a sustainable future for the program,” Medina said.
Medina was also optimistic that Chiron Studies instructors, who have been teaching without pay, will be compensated for their time.
“One thing that was promising is that there was indication…that the administration might be willing to rectify the situation of our instructors and myself not being paid,” Medina said. “We’ve been part of this university for almost half a century, so there really is no right for the university not to compensate our instructors.”
Future funding options for Chiron Studies included integration into existing departments, but Medina remains concerned about funding for the upcoming school year.
“This thing is unfolding very slowly,” Medina said.