Dance program photo

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s proposed Phase 2 budget reductions call for the complete elimination of three academic departments and programs in addition to other cuts, according to a message to campus sent on Sept. 3.

Over the next three fiscal years, a total of $22.56 million in reductions have been proposed, spreading across academic and non-academic positions. 

According to Chancellor Ronnie Green’s earlier address to campus, the proposed cuts are as follows:

  • $15.78 million in filled and vacant faculty positions

  • $3.1 million in filled and vacant staff positions

  • $585,000 in voluntary FTE reduction and moves to non-state aided funding

  • $1.12 million in reduction of University Libraries content and collections

  • $1.63 million in reduction to the graduate student and student worker budget

In addition to these general reductions, the following academic programs have been suggested to be either temporarily discontinued or phased out:

  • The Department of Textiles, Merchandising, and Fashion Design within the College of Education and Human Sciences

  • The undergraduate Dance Program within the Glenn Korff School of Music in the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts

  • The Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management program within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

  • The Intercollegiate Athletics Administration specialization within the Master of Arts in the College of Business

Susan Ourada, area head for dance and associate professor of dance, said current dance program students have passionately responded to this proposal.

“Our students are so dedicated to dance, whether they’re in or out of the program, whether they’re majors, minors or people taking dance for a variety of different reasons,” Ourada said. “It’s an important part of their education and to think that they won’t be able to follow their dreams, their passions or their academic desires because of this is really painful.”

If the proposed cuts are actualized, UNL will be the only Big Ten Conference school without a dance program, Ourada said. She said one of the most devastating things about the prospect of losing the UNL dance program is future students would not have the chance to study dance in the state of Nebraska.

“We are the University of Nebraska, and there are students who wouldn’t be able to study dance if we didn’t have a dance program,” Ourada said. “We embrace the student with potential rather than perfection as they move into their study of dance and we love that, and this is a place where that can happen.”

Students currently enrolled in the dance program have demonstrated its importance to campus, according to Ourada.

“[The students] have really mobilized and organized and it’s amazing to see,” Ourada said. “I know that they’ve been having meetings, planning a performance and are planning to do a number of different public outreach events.”

Ally Akerberg, a sophomore dance and psychology double major, said the recent proposal was shocking and upsetting.

“Last year we were graciously given a brand new state-of-the-art building to share with the Emerging Media Arts students,” Akerberg said. “It seemed like we were just about to be noticed by the university and that people were excited to see what we had to offer as artists.”

Dance students have been meeting with fellow students, members of the program and alumni to discuss a course of action in response to the proposed budget cuts, Akerberg said. 

Additionally, a petition to save the UNL dance program was created by recent graduate Gayle Rocz and currently contains over 5,500 signatures.

The dance students’ advocacy as a response to the proposed budget cuts is something that will serve them the rest of their lives, Ourada said. 

“This won’t be the last time that they’ll have to step up and rally to the defense of something,” Ourada said. “Dancers don’t just learn dance. They learn to advocate; they learn to integrate and collaborate.”

In the Phase 2 proposal, Green states the Academic Planning Committee will hold hearings in September and October on the recommendations and that this is the time to make any concerns known.