Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Saturday, 07 December 2013 08:37
Dozens of faculty and supporters including students packed the meeting room to express their displeasure at recently announced cuts of 30 non-tenure track faculty with another 10 teachers with terminal contracts also not expecting to return in fall.
|Protestors are seen during at BGSU board of trustees meeting. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
The protest was mostly silent except for some boos when visitor Ohio Speaker of the House William Batchelder said that the state was struggling to get its finances set because of the Affordable Care Act. Then he thanked the trustees for "their sacrifices" in working for BGSU, a remark that was met with derisive laughter.
They enthusiastically cheered after the Sheri Wells-Jensen president of the Faculty Senate addressed the board .
Wells-Jensen said that non-tenure track faculty are "on the frontline" of providing a quality education. "They are going beyond the call making a difference for our students," she said.
In reporting about what happened at the Faculty Senate meeting earlier this week, she said, that some of those being cut had worked for the university for more than 10 years.
"They are not people we can trim away and still be a great university," Wells-Jensen said. The faculty want the trustees to share their concern about the direction the university is heading. The faculty does not want BGSU to be "just an average university."
"They want to find another way to be fiscally responsible," Wells-Jensen said. "We cannot manage cuts to who we are."
The faculty, including those present at the meeting are "ready to work with you," she concluded.
The faculty came with two kinds of signs. One set was orange and bore the message "Stop the Cuts."
The other set, hand drawn, gave specific facts about specific faculty members who were going to lose their jobs. One on display declared "taught 342 students spring 12 to fall 13."
The idea said David Jackson, the president of the BGSU Faculty Association, was "let the administration see the impact of the cuts."
Jackson said the union is taking a two-pronged strategy to combat the faculty cuts.
The faculty would be taking political actions like the demonstration at the trustees meeting and an informational presence at today's Preview Day.
The union is also looking at whether some of the non-renewals are a violation of either the union contract or state law.
|Bowling Green State University instructor Dave Sennerud, whose contract was not renewed three different times, holds a sign during a board of trustee meeting at BGSU.
Jackson said "we're always hopeful" that the cuts can be reversed, that somehow "we can convince the trustees to do the right thing."
"We have made some very difficult decisions and will continue to make difficult decisions," Mazey said. The goal is "to make sure this is an affordable education for our students."
She reiterated that when she arrived she found as looking at similar campuses that BGSU had "more faculty and we don't pay them as well."
Since she arrived she noted an additional $5.57 million has been put toward increasing the pay of faculty.
While faculty contended that the cuts will increase the size of classes and reduce the number of courses offered, Mazey contended that was not the case.
"I don't think any of our academic programs are jeopardized because of the cuts."
Some of the non-tenure track faculty have gone through this before, only to be rehired.
Mazey said she couldn't promise that would happen this year. The size of the faculty depends completely on enrollment. "It's always about how many students you recruit and retain and graduate."
Some faculty have complained that she received a $50,000 bonus, more than some of those whose contracts were not renewed made a year, as the cuts were being made. She said that was something that was an agreed part of her contract if she met certain goals.
Those goals included: a satisfactory accreditation report from the Higher Education Commission; increasing university-community partnerships such as the new forensics science building and health center; improving the academic quality of the incoming students; and negotiating a faculty union contract.
She achieved those goals so the bonus was given. She said she has given that bonus back to the university to create scholarships for students.
Asked why she had not said as much when the bonus was granted, Mazey said she didn't like talking about it and would prefer it not be publicized.