The Chronicle of Higher Education
Date: February 9, 1996
Section: Personal & Professional
Administrators at the University of Rochester offered mathematicians on the campus a deal: They could keep their Ph.D. program open if other departments were willing to help pay for it.
But last week, members of the mathematics department decided that this was an offer they could refuse. Joseph A. Neisendorfer, the department chairman, says the proposal would have pitted departments against each other. "We didn't think it was a fair test."
The department's struggle to preserve its doctoral program has attracted support from scholars across the country. Beginning next fall, Rochester plans to suspend admissions to four Ph.D. programs, including mathematics, as part of a strategy to cut costs. The mathematics faculty will be reduced, through attrition, to 10 professors from 21.
Last month, the administration offered to allow the mathematicians to keep an extra three or more positions if other departments would permanently contribute money to pay for the jobs.
Richard N. Aslin, vice-provost and dean of the college, says the administration got the idea from letters of protest it had received. Many scholars wrote that a Ph.D. program in mathematics was essential to graduate programs in the sciences. "We said, 'Okay, if that's true, let's go back to the other departments and ask, Are you willing to share some of your resources?'"