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The Blue & Gray Press | December 17, 2017

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Budget Cuts Prevent New Tenured Professor Positions

By SARAH SANDERS

As result of a 15 percent budget cut from state funds, the UMW history department was recently denied permission to hire a tenured professor to replace Dr. William Crawley, who will be retiring at the end of this year.

These cuts have resulted in changes in staff hiring practices, rendering the university unable to grant the wishes of all departments in terms of the hiring of tenured professors.

The majority of money spent at the university is wrapped up in faculty salaries, Provost Jay Harper said, leading the university to begin looking at possible cuts in this area.

“With the budget cuts, the academic affairs division was given targets on where to cut money,” Harper said. “As provost, I decided where to cut.”

This substantial proportion has been offset slightly by money received from the federal stimulus package, bringing budget cuts down to only eight percent, according to Harper.

“We won’t be creating any new positions, and many vacant positions will be kept vacant,” Harper said. “Most of the departments have been very understanding with our situation…we’re not laying anyone off…everyone will continue to be employed.”

Determining which positions will remain vacant in the departments has not been an easy task, Harper said. In making this decision, many different points must be considered, including the size of the department, the number of majors available through the department and, most importantly, how easily quality adjuncts can be found.

One of the larger departments at the university, the history department currently has 12 faculty members with 240 students who have declared to major in the area.

“It’s not an ideal situation. We have a lot of majors…we want to give attention to the students…they come to UMW expecting attention and they deserve it,” Jeffrey McClurken, chair of the department of history and American studies, said.

“All of the departments need people…we just had to go through and determine where the cuts would be the least detrimental…nothing about the current situation will be compromising the quality of education,” Harper said.

As adjuncts do not carry all of the same responsibilities as those holding a permanent position, Harper said there can be drawbacks to hiring these temporary staff members, despite the smaller salary the university is required to pay.

“They just don’t have the same connection with the university…we have many long time adjuncts that think well of the college, but they still don’t have that connection,” Harper said.

While McClurken said that they will be able to function for the upcoming year with the adjunct professor, but if the department continues having to keep replacing adjunct professors, they may run into problems.

“We’re not able to give a temporary [professor] the same responsibilities…we’re not going to have them deal with advising issues,” McClurken said.

Until a tenured professor is secured, other department faculty members will have to take on the extra workload in order to make up for the difference in staffing.

Harper said he doesn’t expect to see the state’s cuts going away anytime soon. As the university receives almost 25 percent of its total operating costs from the state, more cuts are going to continue to take a toll on the university.

“Many states are withholding support for higher education, forcing more and more public schools to perform like private institutions,” Harper said.

In addition to the university being forced to depend more on outside resources for operating costs, student tuition will like go up slightly in the years to come, according to Harper. He said this is because the amount of money UMW receives from the government is meant to offset the difference in operating costs and money the university receives from student tuition.

“I have no idea what tuition increase will be at this time,” Harper said. “I cannot say they will be substantial or not…we gotta pay the bills just like everyone else.”

Comments

  1. Cheryl Roberts '93

    This “plan” to control costs is disturbing and appears to be a a knee jerk reaction that is certain to negatively impact current students. Additionally, it is a poor way to to honor Dr. Crawley’s long service to the school. My experience has been that Dr. Crawley always went above and beyond what most faculty members would do for the school. Will the adjunct lecturer replacing him make similar contributions? Unlikely. These types of decisions make the alumni have LESS confidence in the stewardship of the school and its legacy. This sort of disconnect inevitably will result in even lower alumni donations. All of these things tend to devalue a Mary Washington diploma. That should concern everyone.

  2. Luca Toni

    Someone remind me: as the guy who decides where the tough cuts need to be made, has Jay Harper’s pay increased or decreased since this article was written?