Wright State notifies some faculty of eliminated positions

An aerial view of Wright State University's campus. FILE
Caption
An aerial view of Wright State University's campus. FILE

Wright State University is notifying 16 faculty members this week they are part of the retrenchment process, according to the Wright State faculty union and a professor who was laid off.

Wright State announced in February they planned to retrench or reduce its faculty by up to 113 positions due to declining enrollment. Trustees announced in April they would have two voluntary separation plans for impacted faculty, which the Wright State faculty union president, Bobby Rubin, said between 85 and 90 people took part in. In addition, some faculty members left for other jobs.

“Certainly, this is a difficult process for the university, and I assure everyone it is a decision the Board of Trustees did not make lightly,” said Wright State University President Sue Edwards in a statement. “We have for quite some time focused on alternatives to these changes, including two separate rounds of retirement incentives, a reduced reliance on adjunct faculty and an effort to reduce by attrition. Unfortunately, those efforts have not sufficiently reduced the size of our excess faculty workforce. The continuing enrollment declines require us to act further.”

ExploreWright State offers faculty plans for voluntary separation agreements

The retrenchment clause in the AAUP-WSU’s contract says the university must formally tell their faculty members they are being retrenched. Faculty who have been retrenched are given 18 months before they officially are no longer with the university.

Faculty members whose positions are affected by retrenchment will receive up to 18 months of notice during which they will continue to work and receive regular pay and benefits, said Seth Bauguess, a spokesman for the university. He added that the university has offered voluntary separation plans and will offer a significant workforce displacement support package.

The impacted faculty can also take part in the retrenchment clause in the union contract, which also gives faculty members the right to be called back to the university if enrollment counts are higher than expected.

Wright State declined to comment further on the process until it is completed.

Wright State has seen about a 30% decline in enrollment overall in the last five years, according to the university. But attracting first-year students has been a particular problem: First-year undergraduate student enrollment has declined by 53% since 2015.

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Rubin, also a senior lecturer in the English department, said he had spoken to several people who had been notified as of Tuesday morning they are part of the retrenchment process.

“We’re still losing 113 valuable colleagues,” Rubin said. “No matter how we define it, it’s a loss.”