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October 01, 1982 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1982-10-01

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, October 1, 1982-Page 9

Nat. Resources fights for its life

--n

(Continued from Page 1)
countered at the start of the term was
growing complacency among natural
resources students. Last March,-when
the school was first targeted, there was
Oa great deal of concern among
professors and students. But now, as it
becomes apparent that the school, at
least is not likely to be axed altogether,
students are less motivated to go out
and fight for it.
"I don't think people are as angry
(now); people think the school's not
being eliminated," said Jonathon"
Weiland who defended the program at a
rally outside the Regents meeting last
* month.
When the review was first announ-
ced, explained Jeff Cox, a member of
the Student Coordinating Committee
"hundreds wanted to get active ... but
people aren't as afraid now as they
were (last) spring."
Lately though, according to natural
resources junior Judy Wells, momen-
tum to save the school has been picking
up. Last Monday night, Wells and other
students met to gear up for the public
hearings. They arranged to plaster the
city with posters, erect a banner on the
Diag, and urge classmates to attend the
hearings.
Natural resources professors and
administrators have already planned
how they will counter charges that the
school's quality falls short in several
areas.
The main charges leveled against the
school are that its students are not up to
;par, that the school's research falls
short, that it doesn't do well placing its
graduates, and that it costs more to
educate its students than in other
schools.
Those who argue against the school
point out that the SAT scores of fresh-
men entering the school are, on the
average, 100 points below those en-
tering LSA. For example, 60.9 percent
of this fall's LSA freshmen were in the
top 10 percent of their high school
classes, but only 19.7 of the freshmen in
natural resources earned that same
distinction.
)One the students are in the school,
their college grades also tend to fall
below their LSA counterparts,
registrar's records show.
"We're fairly unimpressive, and it
probably cost us something in the
review," admitted natural resources
Prof. John Bassett, who coordinates the
school's undergraduate program.
0 But Bassett explained that there are
reasons behind the difference in studen-
ts. For one thing, natural resources
students have to take more math and
science courses than LSA students, he
said. For another; the school is less

quick to kick out students who fall
below a certain grade point average.
The reason for the latter policy is
rooted in the school's history, explained
Dean Johnson. "The history of this
school has been to get very close to the
student, and you marry that tradition
with the environmental movement of
the 60s and 70s,"where we worked with
students who had interest, but maybe
not the experience and background.
And you can understand why discipline
wasn't as harsh," Johnson said. "I
don't think it's a mistake to have that
spirit."
The problem of the school's declining
enrollment is also linked to the decline
in interest in the- environmental
movement, school officials say.
Since the mid-70s, when the environ-
mental movement was still strong, un-
dergraduate enrollment has dropped
off markedly..
Besides the decline of that
movement, the recent review of the
school has accelerated the enrollment
drop said Burton Barnes, the school's
chairman of graduate affairs. "There
will undoubtedly be a significant
decline in graduate enrollments which
we will have to counter," he said.
"There was a feeling (among students)
that it was a chancy thing to come here
because of the review."
To a degree, the problem of declining
enrollment is tied to another charge
against the school: the gloomy job
prospects for today's graduates.
Many of the placement problems,

contend natural resources professors,
are short-term. It's difficult to find
work now in the field because the
federal government under the Reagan
administration has ended many of the
programs which hired forestry experts.
Also the current recession has
devastated the housing industry, which
in turn has hurt the forestry industry.
The University should not cut the
school simply because today's economy
makes it hard for natural resources
graduates to find jobs, argue natural
resources professors. "A university is
both a short-run and a long-run
animal," said Dean Johnson. "We (at
natural resources) are lookingat long-
term issues ... I don't think we should
design our institution because we have
a depression today."
When some charged that the school's
research has been inadequate, natural
resources professors come back with
figures. In 1975, the school was resear-
ching 32 projects, totaling just under $2
million. That should speak for itself,
they claim.
Professors will concede that the
Budget Priorities Committee is right
when it claims that natural resources
spends more to educate each of its
students than many other schools. but
that cost is necessary, they insist.
"For the school as a whole, I think we
are expensive," said Prof. Bassett.
"We don't have 500 students in a lecture
hall. We require students to look
around at soils, plants, wildlife . .
We're expensive, but we're going to
have to be more efficient."

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