Wright State University faculty, representing the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors, today asked the board of trustees to reinstate faculty positions that were cut last fall.
The university announced in October 2016 that it would eliminate 23 positions, including six faculty jobs, following spring semester. The cuts were one way the university said it was dealing with its budget issues and a drop of enrollment in WSU’s College of Liberal Arts.
The first faculty member to speak at the board meeting this morning, Gretchen McNamara, a lecturer in the school of music, said that students “are devastated” to be “stripped away” from their instructors. The elimination of positions in the music school will make Wright State a less competitive university, McNamara said.
The October layoffs included two instructors in the school of music, officials have said.
Another faculty member pointed to arguments that the university needs to up enrollment to increase revenue as a reason why instructors should not have been laid off.
“Faculty are the revenue generators,” said Noeleen Mcllvenna, a WSU history professor. “We need more faculty not less. The rest is just noise.”
Wright State president David Hopkins said he understands faculty concerns and that he hopes enrollment increases so that faculty members who were laid off can eventually return if they want to.
“It’s always the last thing we want to do,” Hopkins said of the layoffs. “Because of the circumstances of the budget and enrollment challenges, these are the tough decisions we’re forced to make.
Additional faculty stood at the back of the trustees meeting Friday where they held signs protesting the cuts, budget issues and the Wright State University foundation’s hedge fund holdings.
Students today were set to call for the foundation to divest from its hedge fund holdings. Hedge fund holdings make up about $6 million or 8 percent of the foundation’s nearly $80-million endowment, according to a statement from WSU spokesman Seth Bauguess.
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