Amidst the ever-growing concern of budget cuts at San Diego State, not only are students being affected, but cherished faculty as well.
Students in the athletic training program are fighting the school’s decision to cut their clinical coordinator by writing letters and making t-shirts expressing their opposition to the decision.
Marcia Klaiber was hired in 2006 to teach the hands-on evaluation and therapeutics exercise classes. When Dr. Robert Moore, who founded the athletic training program in 1968, retired, she took over his classes. Many in the program agree Moore created a legacy at SDSU, with national and international recognition.
A few years ago, some of Klaiber’s classes were eliminated and she became a part-time faculty member.
“I understand budget cuts are budget cuts, we had to cut units out of our program … combine classes and I was the last one that was hired so … I had to lose classes first,” she said.
The program currently has one full-time and two part-time faculty members. According to Dr. Denise O’Rand, the athletic training program director, they were forced to generate another full-time position when the program was up for reaccreditation. She said the program was short faculty.
“So that’s where the decision was made to combine areas and to kind of piggy-back off of strengths in different areas … the decision was made to have a dual credentialed full-time position,” she said.
Essentially, the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences had to create a new position that would teach in both the athletic training program and physical therapy. With the new doctorate in physical therapy, this faculty member would teach those classes as well. O’Rand said in order to get the “final stamp of approval” for reaccreditation, the program needs to hire a dual credentialed faculty member by the end of the semester.
O’Rand said this position needs someone credentialed in both disciplines and Klaiber is not a licensed physical therapist.
Klaiber said her position is being cut because of the budget restraints and the new position’s requirements.
ENS is conducting a faculty search for this position. O’Rand said having clinical experience is important in order to teach the hands-on classes.
Students in the AT program said having experience in the field with athletes is Klaiber’s specialty. She has more than two decades of clinical experience.
“I’m looking at clinical experience and ideally three to five or more years is going to be essential to say you have the clinical background, to say you can teach what’s current,” O’Rand said.
Because the new position would be teaching part time in two different areas, students are worried this will affect their quality of education.
Madison Bala, a kinesiology junior with an emphasis in athletic training, said Klaiber’s influence is essential for the continued success of the program in general. She wrote a letter to the director of ENS explaining to him how invaluable her teaching is to students.
“Her clinical experience and knowledge of the curriculum make her the most qualified instructor in the program,” Bala said. “Students are better prepared and are taught in a hands-on setting, which is important when we are helping athletes.”
Bala said it’s important for professors to have recent field experience in order to present the material in class in a comprehensible way.
O’Rand said she understands why students are concerned, and in a perfect world, Klaiber would be back as a full-time lecturer.
“Our first priority is going to be that (the new position) can come in and teach at the same level and maintain the same quality that (Klaiber) has been able to do,” O’Rand said.
Dr. Fred Kolkhorst, director of ENS, said they are not replacing Klaiber, rather they are restructuring how they’re allocating faculty positions in the school.
Students sent letters to Kolkhorst voicing their concerns about Klaiber’s departure. He said students are supportive of Klaiber as an instructor, but he could not specifically comment on the “notes sent in confidence.”
Klaiber said she was surprised when she saw the “Save Marcia” T-shirts.
“I am touched, I am flattered, I am very glad (they) feel this way,” she said.
Her ideal situation in the program would be to have two people dedicated full-time in athletic training, without having to “wear two hats.”
The new position would include being the clinical coordinator of the AT program, Klaiber’s current position.
Right now, Klaiber said there are no classes for her to teach next semester, but there are still a lot of classes that have not been assigned.
“So hopefully into June we will have a little bit of a handle on the budget, there may still be an opportunity for me to pick up a little of those hands-on labs, but that is not determined yet,” Klaiber said. “I think that since I am still here, it kind of shows how much I really like this program … I’m still fighting to stay involved with it.”
When asked whether Klaiber would stay in the program, Kolkhorst said he could not comment on personnel issues. However, he said having this new dual role would be mutually beneficial for both physical therapy and athletic training.
“I think this is really a win-win situation for all of our programs,” he said.
Klaiber said she wants SDSU to produce good athletic training students and she hopes to be involved next year.
“I took the job in 2006 thinking this is what I want to do for the rest of my career, this is where I want to retire … I want to give back as part of the program,” she said.
The final decision on the new position is up to O’Rand, Kolkhorst and the director of the doctor of physical therapy program. O’Rand said she is open to students’ thoughts and opinions in regards to the new position.