Austerity Message Pt. 2

Dear Members,

Last week we sent the bargaining unit a message regarding the proposed cuts in the College of Arts and Sciences, describing the process as we understood it and asking for your on-the-ground perceptions of how the process is progressing. We have received a tremendous amount of feedback and our understanding grows and evolves each day. Please, keep sending us information, and your questions, about how the process is unfolding in your unit.

The main thing we are hearing is that what is happening in CAS does not match the process we described. We have received reports from many units that decisions have already been made with regards to who will not be renewed and faculty are beginning to be informed that they will not be returning. We have also heard that many unit heads believe that decisions are being handed down from CAS and the process is not as collaborative as we were led to believe it would be.

We received Dean Marcus’s memo seeking to dispel the “rumors” we were hearing. It states that cuts have not been finalized, unit heads are being given opportunity for input, and their input is being taken into consideration. Dean Marcus assures us that “In most cases, these conversations have changed some of the outcomes we initially proposed.” However,  some career NTTF have already been informed of non-renewal and several questions still remain. We have asked the CAS deans for a meeting to gain a fuller understanding of how the process came to be described to us so differently from how it is actually playing out and to have some of the faculty’s questions addressed. We are meeting with them on this afternoon and hope to have more information for you very soon.

The two main questions we hope to have addressed are how cutting non-tenure-track positions will save money in the long term, and why there is such a rush to address a problem that has been building for years; it is our understanding that in some cases department heads are being given just a few days to propose where to make massive cuts to their faculty.

Many faculty have expressed a fear that cuts to their unit will become self-perpetuating, leading to a permanent weakening or de facto elimination of their program.  The College of Arts and Sciences, facing a $4 million deficit, is using the metric of NTTF student credit hours (SCH) to TTF SCH in each unit to  single out areas where cuts can be made. The idea is apparently that some units are carrying more NTTF than truly needed, since TTF can teach those courses. CAS is proposing to cut NTTF positions to restore a balance between NTTF employment and NTTF need. Many NTTF, however, teach the largest classes in their units (and NTTF teach more courses than TTF), so that reducing NTTF FTE will almost certainly lead to reduced student credit hours in the unit in subsequent years. We have asked CAS to address this apparent contradiction and to discuss with us the plan to prevent the units which are seeing cuts from having to make cuts again as their SCH decrease in future years.

We also want to discuss with CAS the apparent rush to get these cuts done. Many good questions are being asked regarding the proposed cuts and good questions deserve well-thought-out answers. We are deeply concerned that decisions made hurriedly today will lead to damaging outcomes tomorrow. We understand that President Schill has made improving the tenure-track faculty to student ratio a priority. We share his enthusiasm for this goal. We do, however, wonder why the ratio needs to be improved all at once this year, indeed, over the course of less than a month.

At this point in the process faculty have more questions than answers. We do understand that this is a difficult process for everyone and in no way question the commitment and hard work of our deans and department heads. As Dean Marcus wrote, no one is happy about reducing budgets or cutting faculty. We hope that our conversation this afternoon will be full, detailed, and productive, and we will report back to you what we learn.

Please reply to this email to send in your information and questions so we can represent the faculty fully and well.

Posted in NTTF, TTF, Uncategorized, Updates.