Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018
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BGSU to cut 30 faculty posts

Job losses blamed on projected deficit; union vows fight


BOWLING GREEN — Bowling Green State University plans to not renew 30 full-time faculty members because of budget shortfalls.

Provost Rodney Rogers, in a message to BGSU employees on Monday, said the move would save an estimated $1.4 million a year. Mr. Rogers said the cuts would come from the nearly 260 nontenure-track faculty members. The university’s faculty union plans to fight the job losses.

“We are constantly trying to balance to ensure that we have strong academic programs but also ensuring that a Bowling Green degree is affordable,” Mr. Rogers said.

The university announced last month the need for large budget cuts because of a deficit that’s projected at between $3 million and $10 million over the next several years. President Mary Ellen Mazey said at the time the shortfall will be covered with budget cuts, not tuition increases.

In a message on Friday, she said the university must “face the realities of the budget situation, balancing the need to keep a BGSU degree affordable and a great value to our students.”

Faculty Association President David Jackson said the cuts would hurt the quality of education, saying fewer faculty members would lead to fewer course offerings and larger class sizes. The loss of full-time staff would also mean the university would increase reliance on part-time faculty, who are paid less and often have larger teaching demands.

“This is really really damaging, and really really bad news for B.G.,” Mr. Jackson said.

He said the union plans to resist the job losses, and union officials would explore whether it has any recourse through its contract.

The university hired consulting firm Accenture for $500,000 to audit BGSU’s operations, evaluate programs, and identify cost-saving measures. The company’s report will be released Dec. 11, Ms. Mazey said.

Mr. Rogers said the timing for the job-loss announcement was driven by a requirement to notify nontenure track faculty with seven or more years of service about the status of next year’s contract before Dec. 1.

Eight faculty with seven or more years of experience will not see their contracts renewed, as well as nine faculty with four to six years of experience, and 13 with one to three years of experience.

Mr. Rogers said 26 of the 30 spots fall within the largest college, the college of arts and sciences, and the remaining four are within colleges of education and business and at the Firelands campus near Huron.

Contract decisions were made based on enrollment trends, staffing levels, teaching schedules, accreditation, and the “academic integrity of the program,” Mr. Rogers said.

The consulting firm is expected to suggest longer-term measures focused on the business-side of the university’s operations, he said.

Mr. Rogers said the cuts shouldn’t lead to dramatic jumps in class size, but said some general education and upper-level courses may see increases.

Earlier this year, the university reduced faculty positions by 73 through retirements, attrition, and ending some one-year contracts. That move increased the average class size from 20.73 students to 21.43, officials said.

Mr. Rogers said a smaller freshman class this year contributed to the need to make reductions and pointed to state funding changes.

He also noted a university commitment to raise full-time faculty salaries to market rates. “We’ve set aside and budgeted now and begun to forecast to ensure we can bring our faculty to the mean of some of our peer institutions,” he said.

Mr. Jackson called that a “divide and conquer” attempt by administrators to pit laid-off faculty against those who remain.

He also criticized the money BGSU spent on its contract with Accenture, a recent raise and bonus for Ms. Mazey, and buildings and athletics, saying the university is trying to create an “atmosphere of financial crisis.”

“The university has money for what it prioritizes, and at this moment, for whatever reason, it just seems to not prioritize faculty,” he said.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.

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