Eastern to cut 40 faculty positions

Stephanie Markham, Editor-in-Chief

Department chairs are finding ways to deal with layoff setbacks including consolidating or canceling previously scheduled classes as Eastern is set to eliminate about 40 faculty positions.

President David Glassman announced via press release at about 6 p.m. Monday that 26 annually contracted faculty members will not receive teaching assignments in the upcoming academic year and three are being reduced to half time.

The press release also states approximately 10 annually contracted faculty positions will not be filled.

The layoffs are part of the plan Glassman announced at the end of June to reduce Eastern’s expenses in fiscal year 2016 as the university is faced with declining enrollment and budget cuts from the state.

“With virtually no reserve funds to call upon as we balance this year’s budget, we have no alternative but to continue our multi-year process of identifying expense-cutting initiatives,” Glassman states in Monday’s press release.

According to Article 14 of the Unit B faculty contract, an employee may be laid off as a result of enrollment reduction or “financial exigency” demonstrated on a university-wide level.

The factors to be considered when determining who will be retained include length of full-time service at the university, length of full-time service in the department, educational qualifications, professional training and professional experiences, according to the contract.

The order in which faculty are to be considered for layoffs begins with temporary and part-time employees, then full-time employees on probationary appointment but without tenure, and lastly tenured employees, according to the contract.

Richard Wandling, chair of the political science department, said two Unit B faculty members who had a total of eight classes scheduled for fall are being let go from his department.

Wandling said the decision to lay them off materialized on July 9, and he plans to spend the coming week consolidating, reassigning or canceling classes.

“Both outstanding colleagues had (contracts) that were dually offered to them back in May, which they signed and sent back to the university,” Wandling said. “(They) had every expectation that they would be faculty members at EIU this coming year.”

He said laid-off faculty members would be in a better situation to find work if they had known by May or June that they needed to.

“If the university’s budget situation was that dire, the contracts should not have gone forth in May,” Wandling said. “Certainly that would have been difficult news, but at least they’d have two more months to be looking for a position.”

Ali Moshtag, chair of the economics department, said the one person who was let go from economics was the only Unit B faculty member in the department.

“She was perhaps one of the most productive and popular economics professors at Eastern,” he said. “Students loved to take her classes, and she was an excellent recruiter.”

Moshtag said he would have to redistribute the students in her classes and assign them to other faculty members, who may see an increased workload.

“To make sure students don’t suffer, we had to cancel classes with the lowest enrollment,” he said. “All of her classes were full.”

Wandling said some classes across the university would likely have to be larger in the fall to make up for having fewer faculty members.

“The administration has directed us to focus on consolidations and reassignment from remaining faculty,” Wandling said. “But depending on the particular department and the particular course, there are going to be times when it’s very difficult to avoid a cancelation.”

According to the press release sent Monday, Glassman said the university would continue to be cognizant of Eastern’s core educational mission.

“Student course enrollments will be managed so that educational services to students are not negatively affected,” Glassman said in the press release.

Moshtag said he believes the layoffs will have “devastating” effects on the university.

“Most of the people leaving now were good enough to survive cuts in the past,” he said. “Now there is no other alternative to deal with the financial problems.”

Moshtag said the Eastern community would have to trust Glassman and hope he succeeds in fixing the university’s budget.

“If he is successful, Eastern is successful,” Moshtag said. “We will all have to rally behind the president and make sure Eastern comes out smelling like roses.”


Stephanie Markham can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].