BGSU faculty association president: Cutting 100 full-time faculty a ‘disastrous decision’Written by Brian Bohnert | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Bowling Green State University announced Jan. 18 that it plans to eliminate 100 of its roughly 850 full-time faculty members before the start of classes next fall, while increasing student enrollment by nearly 32 percent.
In an official statement released by the school, BGSU spokesperson Dave Kielmeyer said the 11 percent drop in full-time faculty will come from “attrition, retirements and the expiration of some one-year teaching contracts.”
The reduction in staff will save an estimated $5.2 million, which will be reallocated to “other university priorities including competitive salaries for faculty and staff,” according to an email sent Jan. 18 to BGSU faculty and staff by BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey.
A shift in dominant areas of study over the years contributed to the university’s decision, Kielmeyer said.
“Over time, students’ interest in areas of study changes, and the University must adjust to meet these evolving teaching needs,” Kielmeyer said in the statement.
The university currently employs 848 full-time faculty members.
David Jackson, professor and president of the school’s faculty association, said neither he nor any of his fellow faculty members had any knowledge of the administration’s plan.
“We oppose the reduction of a single faculty member, especially with the plan to dramatically increase the number of students,” Jackson said.
Rodney Rogers, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, said the decision to increase enrollment from 19,000 students to 25,000 will not negatively impact the educational experience at the university.
“Our priority is ensuring the success of our students, and we are constantly evaluating staffing to meet their needs and operate as efficiently as possible,” Rogers said in the statement.
The decision to make the cuts was first announced Jan. 15 during a Faculty Senate meeting.
While the university maintains that the quality of education will not be negatively impacted, Jackson said the severe reduction in faculty will result in cramped classrooms and a less-individualized experience for students.
“This is a disastrous decision for the quality of education at BGSU,” Jackson said. “One-hundred faculty being fired means 800 fewer classes for BGSU students, and larger class sizes.”
The current student-to-faculty ratio is 18:1, and Jackson said the increase to 27:1 will only hurt the university’s goal of higher recruitment.
“Students come to BGSU for the professional relationships with faculty made possible by our low student-to-faculty ratio,” he said. “It shows contempt for faculty and for students, and it shows a complete lack of understanding about the value of small class sizes.”
In a Nov. 16 interview about the ongoing contract negotiations between BGSU and its faculty, Jackson said the administration’s choice not to renew one-year teaching contracts is misleading because many instructors are rehired on a yearly basis.
“Forty percent of our faculty is non-tenure-track faculty, higher than any other university in the state of Ohio,” he said. “They teach more than a typical faculty member and they have absolutely no job security and no respect from the university for the work that they do.”