- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Budget cuts have led to the elimination of three professor positions in the University of Vermont Extension program, school officials said.

The positions being cut are in equine science, dairy farming and horticulture.

The three professors handle classroom teaching, research and community education programs to help farmers adopt better practices Vermont Public Radio reports (https://bit.ly/1dN0ftC ). Vermont’s level-funding of UVM for much of the past decade and gridlock in Congress are causing the cuts, said UVM Extension Dean Doug Lantagne.

“Finances continue to get tight,” Lantagne said in an interview, “and we’re just not having additional revenues to do all the things that we used to be able to do.”

According to its website, Extension is an outreach program that helps Vermonters use research at work, such as improving crop yields and productivity.

Lantagne said he met with UVM Extension leaders and an advisory committee and decided the three cut positions give UVM “the most flexibility to meet the needs of the state.”

Professor Julie Smith, whose position was designated to be cut, said she isn’t leaving. She will receive a large federal grant to fund research on disease outbreaks in livestock, and will conduct that research at UVM. But she won’t contribute to outreach programs.

Award-wining equine scientist Betsy Greene said she has grown a strong connection to Vermont horse farmers after 15 years at UVM.

“We’ve built a lot of good programs and connections over the years that I’ve been here, so it’s disappointing to say the least,” she said.

Greene said she’s doesn’t know who is going to reach out to the farmers after her position is cut. Greene said she and the other cut professors hadn’t spoken to Lantagne about why they were chosen. There’s a disconnect between administrators and faculty, she added, because faculty split their time between Extension and traditional classes, unlike other colleges.

The three positions will be funded through the next school year.


Information from: WVPS-FM, https://www.vpr.net

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