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Students, faculty urge Montana Tech not to cut programs and employees

BUTTE – Some Montana Tech students asked a panel at the Butte school to spare some programs, like the technical communications program, from being cut from the curriculum.

“I am concerned why we are cutting the program and multiple programs rather than looking into the recruiting process,” said Montana Tech student Ryan Bossard.

The panel held a public hearing to take comments this week about a draft proposal issued last week that could cut up to 13 faculty positions and 10 staff positions as well as eliminate some non-engineering departments to reduce the university’s budget. Some say these fields of study are needed as the world becomes more technical.

“Data science and technical communication are two areas that are going to be critical in that future economy and the future problems that we have to solve,” said Rayelynn Brandl with the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program at Montana Tech.

The panel was informed that these cuts could hurt Montana Tech goal to recruit more female students.

“The programs that you’re looking at eliminating are programs that help address some of that gender bias or that gender skewedness in terms of recruiting more female undergraduate and graduate students,” said Professor Pat Munday.

Montana Tech Alumnus Jessica Jones added, “I think a good way to do this is to keep the data science program, because even though there are only seven students in this program, three of them that I know are females and that’s more than there are in the entire computer science program.”

Some Montana Tech alumni, who ended up starting their own businesses here in Butte, like the owner of 5518 on Main Street, were at that meeting and said these programs helped them get started in business.

“And the skills that I learned in the couple years studying up here in that particular department, which is now slated to be cut significantly, the skills that I learned are directly relatable to the successes that we’re trying to do on Main Street,” said Jon Wick, co-owner of 5518 in Butte.

The panel will take these comments and created a revised draft of the proposed cuts by this Friday. They will vote whether to accept the final draft on Dec. 14th. Another public hearing is slated for noon Dec. 10th in the Student Union.

 -John Emeigh reporting for MTN News

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