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Alums react to Henderson State University program, faculty cuts

Students who are enrolled in the impacted programs will still be able to finish them
Henderson State alums say the news that their university is cutting 37% of its staff and most...
Henderson State alums say the news that their university is cutting 37% of its staff and most of its fine arts programs is both “heartbreaking” and “devastating.” All told, 12 programs — including history and theater arts — are being cut.
Published: May. 8, 2022 at 11:12 PM CDT
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(KSLA) — Henderson State alums say the news that their university is cutting 37% of its staff and most of its fine arts programs is both “heartbreaking” and “devastating.”

The university says the budget cuts are the school’s only hope of getting out of a “dire financial situation.”

“It was clear that a transformational change was required,” Chancellor Chuck Ambrose said. “It’s certainly less disruptive than coming into summer 2022 and having to suspend operations, because you don’t have the money to pay your staff.”

“Henderson made me who I am,” said Claire Howard, of the Class of 2016. “We had such an incredible, diverse offering of arts programs for students.”

The university is cutting:

  • geography,
  • history,
  • political science,
  • public administration,
  • social science,
  • criminal justice,
  • early childhood development,
  • family and consumer sciences,
  • human services,
  • biology,
  • radiography,
  • chemistry,
  • mathematics,
  • nuclear medicine technology,
  • medical lab science,
  • studio art,
  • art education,
  • communication,
  • mass media communication,
  • theatre arts,
  • English, and,
  • Spanish.

“Historically, across the United States, when there are budget cuts, music and arts programs, they’re the first to go,” Howard observed.

But 2016 graduate Larkin Parks looks at the funding issues a little differently.

“It’s just very strange now, that they’re just cutting it, if it wasn’t getting properly funded anyway. We’ve been using the same costumes for years.”

Parks got a minor in dance. While she said she is grateful for her experiences, she does not agree that the programs needed to be cut altogether. Henderson State was one of the last dance degree programs in Arkansas.

“There are lots of dance studios in the ArkLaTex,” Parks said. “If they can’t get it at the collegiate level, what are they going to do?”

That uncertainty is what Howard worries about most.

“It breaks my heart, not only because Arkansas and the ArkLaTex are losing really dynamic and incredible musicians, but also biologists and English professors.”

The university says students who are currently enrolled in the cut programs will still be able to finish them.

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