We have established a 2020 Budget Reduction Task Force (BRTF) to provide structure for shared engagement and decision-making around recurring budget cuts that align with the College’s commitment to equity, openness, and community. This task force will identify and make recommendations to the Dean about recurring budget cuts that align with the core values of the College of Arts & Letters. Three subcommittees will begin their work during the summer to facilitate the charge of the Task Force, adding faculty participation as needed after August 15, 2020. 

  • Curriculum Integrity and Programmatic Shifts Subcommittee, chaired by Jackie Rhodes
  • Staff Structures and Personnel Adjustments Subcommittee, chaired by Yen-Hwei Lin
  • Academic Structures Subcommittee, chaired by Arthur Versluis

Each subcommittee will provide deliverables for their respective areas of investigation including:

  • Identifying specific strategies and the potential recurring cost savings of each.
  • Making specific recommendations and including the pros and cons of each.
  • Providing Chairs and Directors with guidance, tools, and recommendations for identifying reductions in their units. They will then present their findings to the Dean’s Administrative Team due on September 30, 2020.

Subcommittee Recommendations

As of October 2020, the BRTF subcommittees submitted the following recommendations to Dean Christopher P. Long. To access these reports and the associated appendices, please click on the link below. Access only for those with an MSU NETID.


Building the Dashboard of Program Indicators will be a collaborative process that should continue to evolve over time. The goal is to start by providing data in February 2021 and to build out the dashboard with the input of chairs, directors, and faculty feedback throughout. There will are two phases:
  • PHASE ONE – meet with units individually to share baseline indicators and to discuss any additional potential dashboard indicators for phase two;
  • PHASE TWO – provide each with an opportunity to review their dashboard with those identified indicators and provide program recommendations.
A timeline of the Dashboard of Program Indicators can be found at the following link.

Subcommittee Notes and Minutes

Access only for those with an MSU NETID. Includes all minutes and notes from each of the subcommittees. All notes are in Microsoft OneNote.  

We are committed to putting the core values of openness, equity, and community into practice through the process of identifying and making the budget reductions required of us. Below are those three subcommittees charge and members.

We have identified the Budget Reduction Steering Committee who represent the varied disciplines of the college. They are:

  • Cara Cilano, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education
  • Ken Desloover, Chief of Staff
  • Sonja Fritzsche, Associate Dean, Academic Personnel and Administration
  • Bill Hart Davidson, Associate Dean, Research & Graduate Studies
  • Ryan Kilcoyne, Marketing Director
  • Yen-Hwei Lin, Staff Structures and Personnel Adjustments Subcommittee Chair
  • Christopher Long, Dean, Ex Officio
  • Jackie Rhodes, Curriculum Integrity and Programmatic Shifts Subcommittee Chair
  • Melissa Staub, Project Manager
  • Deanna Thomas, Executive Assistant, Ex Officio
  • Arthur Versluis, Chair, Academic Structures Subcommittee


  • Explore structural changes to units within the College and possibly across Colleges that will elevate the quality of our work and generate recurring cost savings;
  • Identify possible units, centers, initiatives that need to be closed or transitioned to other funding sources.

Subcommittee Members

  • Chair – Arthur Versluis (Chair, Religious Studies)
  • Kirk Astle (Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, Faculty Senate)
  • Amanda Brohman (Writing Center, Staff Advisory Council)
  • Laura Cloud (Art, Art History, and Design, Faculty Senate)
  • Kathleen Fitzpatrick (Director, Digital Humanities)
  • Tony Grubbs (Chair, Romance and Classical Studies)
  • Bill Hart-Davidson (Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Education)
  • Kiersten F. Latham (Director, Arts and Cultural Management/Museum Studies)
  • Felix Kronenberg (Director, Center for Language Teaching Advancement)
  • Noushin Mahmood (Art, Art History and Design, Staff Advisory Council)
  • Casey McArdle (Director, Experience Architecture)
  • Danny Mendez (Romance and Classical Studies, College Advisory Council)
  • LouAnne Snider (Art, Art History and Design, Staff Advisory Council)
  • Stephanie Vasko (Assistant Director, Center for Interdisciplinarity)
  • Arthur Versluis (Chair, Religious Studies)
  • Joshua Yumibe (Director, Film Studies)
  • Karin Zitzewitz (Chair, Art, Art History, and Design)


  • Identify and undertake data-informed processes/policies for curriculum decision-making that aligns with College values and generates recurring budget savings;
  • Explore opportunities for savings and enhancements regarding the structure of academic programs—focus specifically on the relationship between programs and departments;
  • Identify strategies to support student success efforts and reduce our reliance on ad hoc non-tenure stream hiring.

Subcommittee Members

  • Chair – Jackie Rhodes (Chair of Writing Rhetoric, and American Cultures)
  • Yael Aronoff (Director, Jewish Studies)
  • Laura Borchgrevink (Dean’s Office, Staff Advisory Council)
  • Ruth Nicole Brown (Chair, African American and African Studies)
  • Cara Cilano (Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education)
  • Leann Dalimonte (Dean’s Office, Staff Advisory Council)
  • Brian DeVries (Theatre, Staff Advisory Council)
  • Salah Hassan (Director, Global Studies Program)
  • Nicola Imbracsio (Assistant Director, Assessment)
  • Beth Judge (Assistant Dean, Undergraduate Studies)
  • Sandra Logan (English, Faculty Senate)
  • Justus Nieland (Chair, English)
  • Charlene Polio (Director, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Program)
  • Christine Radtke (Senior Director, Development)
  • Stacia Rigney (Director, Citizen Scholars Program)
  • Victor Rodriguez-Pereira (Romance and Classical Studies)
  • Blake Williams (Art, Art History, and Design, College Advisory Council)


  • Explore possible changes to the structure of the staff to identify cost savings and performance improvements;
  • Review Pathways to Retirement strategy and make recommendations for improvement and possible rollout;
  • Investigate academic appointment types across the College to ensure high quality teaching and research aligned with faculty Pathways to Intellectual Leadership (CPIL) in budget constrained context.

Subcommittee Members

  • Chair – Yen-Hwei Lin (Chair of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages)
  • Alan Beretta (Director, Neurolinguistics Lab, Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages, College Advisory Council)
  • Dustin De Felice (Director, English Language Center)
  • Danielle DeVos (Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, College Advisory Council)
  • Steven Di Benedetto (Chair, Theatre)
  • Sonja Fritzsche (Associate Dean, Personnel and Administration)
  • Sarah Jackson (Art, Art History, and Design, Staff Advisory Council)
  • Matt McKeon (Chair, Philosophy)
  • Joyce Meier (Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, Faculty Senate)
  • Ellen Moll (Assistant Director, Center for Integrative Studies in Arts & Humanities)
  • Grace Pregent, (Interim Director, Writing Center)
  • Sherry Stevens (Theatre, College Advisory Council, Staff Advisory Council)

In order to determine an equitable burden for unit level reductions across the College, Ken Desloover and the College of Arts & Letters Financial Advisory Board will work with the Chairs explore the capacity of each unit to absorb budget reductions in a way that is equitable and identify percentage reductions in each unit. We have created an advisory board for this initiative made up of the following members across the college:

  • Chair – Ken Desloover (Chief of Staff, Dean’s Office)
  • Sara Allison (Fiscal Officer, English)
  • Carly Ensign (Finance Director, Dean’s Office)
  • Suzie Reed (Fiscal Officer, Art, Art History, and Design)


One of the main tenets of the 2020 Contingency Plan was to “lead transformative change: periods of intense disruption open new opportunities for the arts & humanities to shape a more just and meaningful future; we will summon the courage to enact the change we envision.” The indicator dashboards will empower us to bring a sophisticated, information-rich understanding of our programs to bear on our efforts to lead the transformative change we envision. 

All faculty and staff in the College of Arts & Letters will be the primary users of the dashboards. We stand at a critical point of inflection at MSU as we begin to return to campus and the University undertakes an ambitious strategic planning process under new leadership. As a College, we must position ourselves to make strategic decisions to ensure that the arts and humanities shape the future direction of the University. To do this with integrity, we need to develop a sophisticated understanding of our programs—where they currently stand and how they have historically developed—in order to discern where we are headed and how we will accomplish the goals we have established. The development of program dashboards has been intentionally designed to be an inclusive, iterative, and collaborative process that will continue to evolve over time with input from faculty, staff, directors, and chairs. These dashboards will inform the strategic planning process we undertake in the Fall of 2021.

We value shared governance in the College. We aim to make decisions together. Some of these are done through regular deliberative processes as laid out in our unit bylaws. Other times, as with the BRTF, we create structures for decision making to ensure that our commitment to shared governance guides the way we proceed. In these deliberative moments, having evidence to guide our decisions is critical. The dashboards will inform a strategic planning process that will involve identifying the values, mission, goals and strategies each unit will need to chart a pathway to leadership in its field. Once the goals and objectives are established, the program dashboards will serve as indicators of success, holding us accountable to our values and priorities. A critical aspect of this work will be to further develop a compelling and inclusive curriculum that will enable us to attract and retain a new generation of diverse and engaged students. The dashboards will inform this important process of curriculum reform. Without a clear understanding of our strengths and a sober recognition of our weaknesses, we cannot develop or implement a strategic plan that situates the arts and humanities at the center of the MSU mission.

Candidly, almost all of our decisions at present are in some way related to the current recurring budget shortfalls we are facing. Our efforts continue to be guided, as they have from the start, by the principles outlined in our 2020 Contingency Plan. We have emphasized that we are adopting a bridging strategy to handle the budget reductions. Since the large majority of our recurring budget is bound up in salaries, the main way we aim to return recurring monies to the University is by using savings from retirements and attrition. To accomplish this, we need to use non-recurring funds (e.g., travel, supplies, and services, etc.) to cover the immediate reductions so we can, over time, identify recurring funds to cover the costs of the cuts. Historically, we have had an inadequate understanding of how our curriculum needs shape our instructional costs. The dashboards are designed to give all of us a deeper understanding of this relationship so that when we have attrition, we can strategically redistribute resources to meet the demands of the cuts. The dashboards will enable the College and unit administrators in dialogue with College staff and faculty to make strategic and compassionate decisions regarding hiring, scheduling, and future investments.

At the current moment, we do not know what the new University budget model will look like. The University is in the process of hiring a new Chief Financial Officer, and I was very pleased that Associate Dean Sonja Fritzsche was asked to serve on the search committee. In addition, I served on the Strategic Planning Steering Committee’s Budget Model working group last summer as we made recommendations to the University Task Force about the values that should shape any new budget model. The program dashboards are directly related to an anticipated change in the budget model. In order to better understand the impact a proposed budget model might have on the College and our programs, we need a sophisticated, information-rich understanding of our programs. Without the dashboards, informed by feedback from the staff and faculty, we will not be able to strategically advocate for the budget model that aligns with the transformative change we envision. Regardless of the model, the program indicators dashboards will determine how budgets in the College of Arts & Letters are distributed.

Yes, I agree this has been a difficult year. I want to thank each of you for the conscientious leadership, compassion, and generosity you have demonstrated during this time of uncertainty. Your dedication has been an inspiration for our students, colleagues, and the entire MSU community, and for that I am grateful. We undertake this process now for two reasons. First, we have a significant recurring budget shortfall we need to address strategically, as mentioned above. Second, we need to lead proactive change in the face of a changing budget model at the University. Our approach from the beginning has been to lead with creativity and imagination rather than responding in regressive and reactionary ways