Wittenberg plan would cut 24 faculty jobs

Springfield university dealing with $7 million budget gap.


A Wittenberg University committee recommends eliminating 24 professors to help cope with a $7 million budget shortfall.

The preliminary report by Wittenberg’s Educational Policies Committee, or EPC, recommends trimming two dozen faculty positions over the next five years but not in the manner the administration had requested.

The cuts would achieve the $2 million savings the university estimated it needs from faculty positions. However, the EPC would do so by making across-the-curriculum cuts than rather eliminating specific programs and course offerings.

Faculty members and departments have until Feb. 15 to comment on the preliminary recommendations, which then will be brought to the faculty as a whole. The faculty is expected to act by mid-April and forward the proposal to the administration for review and presentation to the board of directors in May.

In October, Provost Chris Duncan, the university’s chief academic officer, asked the EPC to consider discontinuing programs in music, geography, French, Japanese and computer science; to consider eliminating a physical education activity requirement; and to eliminate WittSems, an integrated learning activity required of incoming freshmen.

Peter Hanson, a chemistry professor who chairs the nine-member EPC, said the committee ultimately decided that approach “seemed more like an amputation, where careful surgery might help.”

“We quickly realized that part of our strength (at Wittenberg) is in the diversity of offerings that we have,” he said. “A student taking dance was also a student majoring in biology. But we knew we still needed to achieve these (budgetary) goals, so we came up with an alternative proposal.”

The preliminary recommendations recommend:

  • Downsizing the music department by 3-4 faculty but keeping a music major and minor;
  • Reducing the dance department by one, dropping a dance major but retaining a minor;
  • Cutting French by one professor but keeping a major and minor.
  • Dropping a faculty position in Japanese and continuing to offer a minor only if it’s viable;
  • Keeping the geography department and re-evaluating its staffing;
  • Retaining current staffing and a major in computer science, and
  • Cutting French and German faculty by 1 each.

The Witt-Sem programs would be eliminated and replaced by a new kind of freshman experience, and the physical activity requirement would be reduced from two semester hours to one.

The recommendation also calls for cutting: one faculty member each from the biology, business, education, math, political science and combined health, fitness and sports department; one to two positions from geology; three from English; two from history and religion; and up to one from psychology and sociology.

Many of the cuts come through unfilled vacancies and retirements.

“I won’t claim everybody is happy” about the proposal, said Hanson. But he said the round of applause the committee received last Thursday from a meeting of 80 faculty members demonstrated faculty support for the recommendations.

“I do feel good about this report,” Hanson said. “I think it offers a proposal to address our part of the budget in a way that doesn’t damage the mission of the institution.”

One thing likely to be on the mind of administrators and board members is whether it might be wiser to eliminate some programs in order to bolster the strength of those that remain.

That likely would call for more current faculty to lose their jobs.

Duncan, who sits on the committee, acknowledged that the proposal was “more of a global approach” than originally had been considered, but called it a “good-faith effort.”

“I think the committee has done very good work in a very short time under very difficult circumstances.”

“The bogey man” in the process, he said, involves financial assumptions and realities that are going to “drive a lot of these decisions.”

“The one thing that can’t be stressed enough,” he added, is Wittenberg’s hope to “improve enrollment and retention and build Wittenberg through growth rather than reduction.”

Duncan said that would be done by a two-pronged approach of boosting enrollment in the traditional program, including expanding the number of vocational-oriented programs; and expanding the number of non-traditional students in the School of Community Education through programs including degree completion, management and nursing and health-related fields.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

Passenger high on 'loveboat' shoots, kills driver on interstate, police say
Passenger high on 'loveboat' shoots, kills driver on interstate, police say

Jacksonville, Florida, officers say a man was high on "loveboat" when he shot and killed a driver on I-95. Police said 32-year-old Tyrell Brown was sleeping in the passenger seat of 25-year-old Steven Shawn Grady's car as they drove through Jacksonville on Sunday. The group was traveling from Orlando to North Carolina. At one point,...
Passing showers possible this evening, colder for Thanksgiving
Passing showers possible this evening, colder for Thanksgiving

Windy and milder today Few passing rain/snow showers in evening Colder for Thanksgiving Today: It will start off quiet and chilly, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini. Clouds will increase through the day. It will become windy with gusts up to 30 mph. Highs will climb to about 50. There’s a chance for passing showers from about...
Son likely killed parents, then himself in double murder-suicide, police say
Son likely killed parents, then himself in double murder-suicide, police say

A dentist in Washington state didn't show up for an appointment Saturday, so just after 7 p.m., a family member called the King County sheriff. What they found has devastated a family and touched people in Sammamish and Seattle, where he and his wife worked. Dr. Rick Nicolini, his wife and adult son were all found dead inside their home in Sammamish's...
Facebook Live video shows men with guns making threats in Tennessee mall
Facebook Live video shows men with guns making threats in Tennessee mall

Police are investigating a Facebook Live video that shows at least two men with guns inside a mall in Memphis, Tennessee. The 39-minute video was broadcast live Saturday at the Oak Court Mall in East Memphis. The video shows a man and several friends walking inside the mall. Several minutes into the video, he pulls out a gun. A few moments later...
WATCH: LaVar Ball fires back at Trump in heated CNN interview
WATCH: LaVar Ball fires back at Trump in heated CNN interview

In a heated 20-minute interview, LaVar Ball told CNN host Chris Cuomo that he wouldn’t thank President Donald Trump for helping to bring back his son from China, ultimately coercing Cuomo into thanking him for appearing on CNN instead. Minutes before thanking Chinese President Xi for his role in freeing his son, Ball said he “doesn&rsquo...
More Stories