In a press release issued on Feb. 23, Albion College announced that the Board of Trustees (BOT) voted to eliminate the equivalent of 15 full-time faculty positions, nearly 10 percent of the total faculty.
Currently, 162 total faculty members are employed, with 137 full time equivalent (FTE) positions. The elimination of 15 full-time equivalent positions would result in the FTE total of 122 after the cuts are made in early summer. Of the total faculty members, 105 are tenure or tenure-track, 67 of whom are tenured.
Faculty cuts will be made through a voluntary early retirement program and the elimination of full-time, part-time, tenure and tenure-track positions. The Board of Trustees mandated the cuts based on budget projections for the next five years.
According to the faculty handbook, there are three ways to terminate tenure or tenure-track faculty: program elimination, declaration of financial exigency and misconduct.
The allocation of faculty and academic staff as well as the recommendation for program elimination falls upon the curriculum and resources committee (C&RC), according to the faculty handbook.
“The curriculum and resource committee is the faculty committee charged with supervision of the curriculum and making recommendations regarding the allocation of resources to support it,” said Timothy Lincoln, director of the Institute for the Study of the Environment and chair of the C&RC. “The mechanics of the process by which the committee will deal with the administration’s request is on the agenda of the faculty meeting on Thursday.”
An institution-wide program review is now being conducted.
“We will not know the outcome, including the details on what positions will be affected, until that review is completed,” said Sarah Briggs, associate vice president for communications. “Faculty have been asked to take part in the program review, and this week it will be determined how the review process will work.”
Albion last eliminated a department, home economics, in 1982 during a similar financial downturn, according to Greg Saltzman, economics and management professor and department chair.
The faculty handbook also lists the declaration of a state of financial exigency as a means of elimination of tenure or tenure-track faculty.
While some institutions have adopted a formal definition of financial exigency, Albion college has not. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP), a group that has gained prestige as a defender of academic freedom and that holds the respect of many Albion faculty members, according to Saltzman, however, defines financial exigency as “an imminent financial crisis that threatens the survival of the institution as a whole and that cannot be alleviated by less drastic means.”
The BOT has not made a declaration of exigency.
Stay tuned this week for news updates from The Pleiad staff.