Friday, April 2, 2004

UK profs feeling sting of cuts

State budget crisis pushing top faculty to bail

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON - An esteemed anthropology professor at the University of Kentucky said state budget cuts are part of the reason he's leaving for another school.

Tom Dillehay, reputed to be a world-class anthropologist, had turned down several offers from other schools in the past.

But a recent offer from Vanderbilt University to him and his wife, English professor Dana Nelson, changed his mind.

"I think the sort of sense that the cuts have been going on for a long time and they're going to get worse made it easier to start paying attention to other places," said Nelson, an American-literature professor. She was offered an endowed chair and the chance to start a mentoring program for junior faculty members.

Officials say the departure of Nelson and Dillehay to Vanderbilt, in Nashville, Tenn., is part of an alarming exodus of senior faculty members at UK. The English department has been hit particularly hard.

English professor David Miller, the 2002 UK Teacher of the Year, is moving to the University of South Carolina.

Dale Bauer and Gordon Hutner, a high-profile academic couple lured to UK's English department from the University of Wisconsin, are leaving for the University of Illinois.

Former English department chairman Greg Waller and professor Steve Weisenburg left last year, and writer James Baker Hall retired in December. Chairwoman Ellen Rosenman said two other faculty members have received offers.

"I would like to pretend that their decisions and others that preceded it aren't influenced by the budget situation," said Provost Mike Nietzel, "but we need to be truthful with ourselves that losses of senior faculty like this are discouraging and they are a predictable consequence over a sustained period when support for the university is declining."

UK's state funding has been cut by $70 million since 2001. This year, state universities were told to cut $41 million to ease state shortfalls; UK's share was $16.7 million.

The University of Kentucky Alumni Association counts 8,367 alumni in Cincinnati and the Northern Kentucky region.

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