The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports as many as 350 full-time faculty throughout Pennsylvania could be laid off over the next few months.
The cuts would bring faculty-student ratios more in line with enrollment declines over the last decade — part of a system redesign in the works since January 2017. The timeline to achieve that initially was five years, but Chancellor Daniel Greenstein condensed that to two years this spring as the pandemic compounded financial struggles at the 14 member universities.
I wrote this blog post earlier today, but I was unaware of the announcement about the potential cuts mentioned above.
Throughout higher education, there’s a developing — and uncomfortable — thread: Cutting sports and jobs in athletics departments ought to be a priority in dealing with the economic fallout from coronavirus.
The argument goes something like this: Athletics is not essential to the higher education mission and therefore trimming sports and the men and women associated with that sport or from the department in general is appropriate before cutting anywhere else.
Lost in that weak sauce argument is that each of those people is being punished simply because of his or her association with sports. Imagine the outrage if people in athletics strenuously called for academic staff to be unloaded; the hue and cry would be instantaneous, and those people calling for such job cuts would instead be the ones on the unemployment line.
That’s the background to the news out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, where today almost two-dozen athletic department personnel were let go by the University of Michigan.
Cleveland.com reports the acrimony between the administration and the faculty at the University of Akron has gotten worse.
Since the proposed agreement was rejected, Akron-AAUP’s current contract will remain effective until Dec. 31, 2020. Faculty whose jobs were eliminated as part of the July 15 cuts will no longer be employed as of Aug. 22, pending an arbitration ruling.
The union has announced it will take two grievances to arbitration: the university invoking a clause in the union contract that allows for layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs of faculty members, regardless of tenure or rank, and UA invoking the contract’s “force majeure” clause, which says that “unforeseen, uncontrolled and catastrophic circumstances” beyond the control of the university could make implementing parts of the bargaining agreement impossible or unfeasible.
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