COLLEGE PARK -- English professors at the University of Maryland in College Park have voted to protest budget cuts by going on strike Monday and Tuesday, canceling classes for about 10,000 students.
The general strike is being called to try to stop the proposed firing of 13 instructors and a 10 percent cutback in English department offerings, according to David Wyatt, chair of English graduate studies.
The department was told two weeks ago to draw up plans to save $150,000, a move that would require dropping courses for 1,500 students. Charles F. Sturtz, vice president for administrative affairs, said the university has asked English and other departments to make more cuts to help absorb a potential loss of up to $5 million in interest income and tuition revenues next semester.
The most senior English faculty plan to picket the main administration building Monday. Campus president William E. Kirwan on Wednesday urged students and faculty to fight cuts to higher education. The campus has lost $40 million in the past two years.
Students are being barred from registering for at least 30 sections of English until university officials decide if they can afford the instructors to teach them, according to Hank Dobin, associate dean of English. If the proposed cuts stand, sections of a course on professional writing --required for all 25,000 undergraduates -- will have dropped from 113 a semester to 72 in two years.
All but about $100,000 of the English department's $6 million budget goes for salaries, Dr. Wyatt said. "When you are talking about cutting us, you are talking about cutting a pound of flesh," he said. The department has not been able to hire full-time professors for two years and is now about 10 below its normal strength of 75. The faculty voted to strike by a ratio of 4-1 Wednesday.