In the face of a $149 million statewide budget cut handed down on community colleges in February, City College of San Francisco music department chair Madeline Mueller is working hard to defend her already slim resources and maintain her diverse department.
The City College music department is one of the most eclectic and diverse in the country according to their mission statement. Mueller credits this to the types of classes it offers and its stellar faculty.
“We have specialists, world-famous specialists,” said Mueller. “We have Grammy nominees that specialize in their areas.”
The department specialists provide a diverse portfolio of classes ranging from the classic canon to an expansive selection of courses in world music. Budget cuts have reduced available courses from 100 to 85 this semester, and a further 6% is expected to be cut in future semesters according to Mueller.
Mueller said that although these cuts have not entirely devastated her department, they are the worst she has seen in her tenure, and they are affecting professors’ abilities to make living wages.
“In my department there is lots of belt tightening. I have not heard of anyone losing their mortgages.” said Mueller. “It’s assumed that our older professors have less fiscal responsibility, however they have children to take care of and they have parents who are sick.”
To compensate for the loss of classes, Mueller, as well as other faculty, have begun to over-enroll their classes by adding more student than they expected.
The 2.75% decrease in the budget is the worst that Professor Mueller has ever seen in her 47 years on staff at City College, 35 of which she has spent as the music department chair. However, despite the harsh future that may lies ahead she is not allowing this to affect her determination and motivation to serve her school and her students.
“We get tired, but we get more resolve. We will survive.”