Wright State to begin process of cutting faculty
Wright State University will begin laying the groundwork to reduce its faculty workforce, the school said Thursday.
The letter from the chapter president to the faculty:
This is a horrific day. The announcement by President Edwards that the University will launch Retrenchment is the latest attempt by the Trustees to rid themselves of troublesome faculty with their academic freedom, and to disguise their own mismanagement with an attack on the primacy of the academic mission. While some — we cannot know how many— will lose their livelihoods as a result of the continued incompetency at the top, the whole Dayton region loses as students will be put into larger classes and professors will have less time for both research and advising students.
If the administration follows the letter and intent of the contract, AAUP may not be able to protect the jobs of our colleagues. Please know that we will fight anything we legally can. There will be moves, there will be narratives, to set us against each other, and it will be understandable that any of us threatened with the loss of our livelihood will react strongly and perhaps feel abandoned. But we need to bear in mind that we have not done this to one another. We have stood together, without salary or health insurance, in a polar vortex, for one another. We cannot strike under the current conditions. Therefore, we must do everything else we can. Use your voices, in every place and to every extent possible, to point out what is truly happening here: what is happening to us, to our students, to the wider Dayton community who are served by our graduates, and to a free society where scholars can share their expertise without fear of reprisal.
Everyone should read the Retrenchment Articles, CBA N17 and T17, carefully. We will form the Committee on Retrenchment quickly, but they will NOT work alone. We need a series of sub-committees, helping to gather and organize data. We need to grasp, however, that faculty form only half of the Committee and the Committee only makes a recommendation to the Trustees. They can then proceed as the CBA allows.
The amount of severance or notice due depends on the length of time one has been a BUFM (see pgs 96 and 100 of the CBA). Most are entitled to be paid for the rest of 2020-21 and for 2021-22. They can pay that out as a lump sum, but are more likely to give notice, making us work for that time. Those who have worked at the University for more than ten years will get eighteen months salary in total, so there may be a couple more months in payout after the 2022 year is done.
We have no idea yet how many faculty they want to cut, nor from what departments or colleges. We will fight for fairness, by every means we can. And we will be transparent. We will communicate what we know as soon as we can.
Let no-one be fooled as to the goals of this latest in a series of attempts to lessen the power of the faculty. Since mid-2017, the Trustees have tried to overturn tenure and continuing appointments, the job security that ensures faculty can speak truth to power. University scholars and teachers should not be silenced, for their livelihoods should not be dependent upon obedience. And let no one fool themselves. Firing faculty has a powerful chilling effect on those who remain.
The Wright State Trustees have relentlessly tried to overturn our protections. The Retrenchment Articles’ severance pay made them want to get around it. All through 2018, they kept our job security on the negotiating table, trying to change the words of Article 17 to render tenure meaningless. The outcry from faculty persuaded them not to include it in the imposed contract of 2019. Nevertheless, they still tried to dismantle the job security of all future NTE faculty. We knew if we did not strike against that and the other outrageous aspects of the imposed contract, they would come after everyone’s academic freedom in the next negotiations. They have not waited that long. In May, using COVID-19 as justification, they asserted the right to our teaching materials as their Intellectual Property, announced a rapid re-organization of the University with no real justification and employed an external attorney, George Crisci, to try to lure us into mid-term bargaining with late-night emails including the infamous Exhibit A. This would have allowed them to fire faculty at will. Again they were not successful.
So now, they must use Retrenchment, their Plan C, and not their favorite option, because the contract at least gives us that extra paid notice. Of course, as we predicted, it has been prompted apparently because of a sudden new financial crisis. Rather than acknowledge a pattern of attacks on academic freedom, we are supposed to believe that this is a response to a fresh discovery of financial problems and projections of huge deficits.
Other unreliable statistics beyond budgets will also be presented. Let’s look at the numbers they don’t want to include in their analysis. In 2016, there were 655 Bargaining Unit faculty. Now there are 488. Approximately 35 faculty leave WSU each year. “Wright-sizing” can come easily, by attrition. But doing so via attrition would not allow the Trustees to demonstrate their will.
As we said a week ago, Governor DeWine has announced more money for the public universities, and with the election results showing a win for the Democratic Party, COVID relief dollars may also come from the federal government. Why not at least wait and see? Why not also wait to see if the $5 million they are investing in marketing improves enrollment? We can only conclude that waiting would ruin the plan to end the job security and academic freedom of faculty, which is the actual goal.
Show up at the Chapter meeting next Thursday at 12:30pm; read every email from AAUP, and follow us on social media. Stay informed and ask how you can help. Full Professors, we make a special plea that you use the relative safety of your positions to speak the loudest to defend the more vulnerable among your colleagues, both within and without your department or college. Everyone, reply to this email with your willingness to volunteer.
With much love,