Quality education suffers with recent faculty layoffs

The hammer dropped this past Friday.

The Mazey administration’s plan for BGSU’s future always had some problems. To cut the number of faculty at this University while dramatically increasing student enrollments, something has to give in this scenario, and that will almost certainly include the quality of education.

Increasing student enrollments is an aspirational goal. The administration may hope it happens, and may do things that promote it, but they can’t achieve it by fiat. Our enrollments were down this year, again.

Cutting faculty is different. They sure can do that by fiat, and President Mazey made it official last Friday. The University will cut 100 full-time faculty positions by fall 2013. This will save the University 5.2 million dollars. It’s a pure coincidence, of course, but the University is expected to lose about 5 million dollars in state funding next year. Therefore we will lose 11% of BGSU’s full-time faculty. QED!

A few administrators were calling this “right-sizing” which shows how deeply some minds have sunk into the muck of pseudo-corporate jargon.

Retention is as important as recruitment for achieving high student enrollments—all the more so, because the new funding model for state universities in Ohio is based on how well we graduate students, not numbers of students on courselists. Will retention increase or decline when students have less access to full-time faculty? Decline seems more likely. So the administration’s move will work against its own professed strategy.

Then there’s the matter of recruitment. Step with me into an alternate universe, like yet unlike ours. In this otherverse, alternate-BGSU’s administration bargained in good faith with the University’s faculty. They signed a contract by the agreed-upon deadline, July 2012, and alternate-BGSU spent the following year as a team, striving to build a better university for the benefit of the students and their community.

This didn’t happen, because of the administration’s bizarre reluctance to take up its responsibilities as a negotiator. But suppose it had?

Which BGSU is more likely to appeal to prospective students? Which BGSU is more likely to retain the students it attracts? Obviously: the one that seems to work better. Sadly, that’s not ours, at least not yet.

The next question that arises: What are they after? If the administration’s purpose is to harm the faculty, the students, and the reputation of this university in which we’ve staked so much of our lives, then they’ve made a pretty good start. But it’s hard to believe that was their intended end game.

At any rate, among all the unanswered questions, we now know one thing for certain. President Mazey’s decimation of the faculty shows us exactly where the administration places education among its priorities. Last.

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