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September 21, 2023

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Faculty, students protest recent cuts at Board of Trustees meeting

The Board of Trustees meeting had a higher turnout than normal, as roughly 100 faculty and students gathered to protest recent faculty cuts.

The protesters gathered before the meeting holding signs, some of which had facts about actual faculty whose contracts were eliminated.

“Each one of these signs will tell you something about a faculty member,” said David Jackson, president of the Faculty Association.

The protest was in response to the administration’s decision not to renew the contracts of 30 non-tenure faculty. There are also 12 additional faculty not returning who were on one-year, non-renewable contracts. The initial 30 reductions will save the University $1.4 million.

“We think it’s detrimental to the quality of a BGSU education,” Jackson said, noting the objective is to convince the administration to rescind the cuts. “This is serious. People have the right to know the facts.”

The protest also had the support of Rudy Fichtenbaum, the president of the American Association of University Professors.

“I’m here today to support them and their struggle to maintain high quality education for students at BGSU,” Fichtenbaum said. “When it comes to keeping faculty in order to serve students, it seems [the administration] thinks the faculty is somehow expendable.”

Once the meeting began, the protesters sat in the audience holding the signs above their heads.

Some of the board members acknowledged the protesters before adjournment. The overall message they sent was that the cuts were done after much deliberation as a way to keep up with enrollment trends.

“For those unhappy with the decision to rightsize,” said trustee Betty Montgomery, “it wasn’t done without thought.”

University President Mary Ellen Mazey stressed the decision was to keep cost of tuition down for students.

“We have made some very difficulty decisions at BGSU and we’ll continue to do that,” Mazey said.

But when Sheri Wells-Jensen, faculty senate chair, addressed the board, she called for looking for other ways to be fiscally responsible.

“These are not in any sense extras, not people we can trim away and remain who we are as a University,” Wells-Jensen said. “What we cannot manage are cuts to who we are.”

Wells-Jensen’s report was followed by applause and cheers from the faculty supporters that delayed the board from continuing the meeting.

The administration also reduced faculty this fall by 73.

“We thought the 73 last year would be the end of it,” said senior Michael Hart, president of the College Democrats. “We’ve got to fight again.”

Hart came to the event both to show the administration that good faculty is important to students, and that these cuts negatively affect faculty lives.

“They mentor us; they show us where we want to go in life,” Hart said. “These are real lives; families.”

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