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Ohio U prepares for potential staff and faculty cuts

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Ohio U President Duane Nellis

Ohio University prepares for potential staff and faculty cuts

Faculty Senate addressed its concerns Monday to President Duane Nellis and Vice President Provost Chaden Djalali over the university’s budget crisis and how it will affect the various colleges on campus.

With Ohio University’s costs exceeding its revenue, the university has been looking into multiple solutions because the current solution is more than tuition increases, Djalali said.

For financial management, the deans of Ohio U’s colleges will create workforce plans to evaluate the instructional and administrative capacity of their respective colleges and determine potential cuts and layoffs for faculty and staff, according to Djalali. 

“We also have to recognize that these decisions are not easy, but we are faced with what we are faced with,” Nellis said.

Senator Bill Reader expressed concern to Djalali over a memorandum he received that said the Scripps College of Communication will be planning for a 30% reduction in its faculty and staff by Nov. 15. 

“The university is having us make these plans haphazardly and quickly,” Reader said.

In response, Djalali said: “The message that was given to the different colleges (from the Dean’s office) were to look at scenarios and to look at the impact of them. We didn’t state specifically that you would have to reduce, it is just a beginning of the conversation.”

Djalali assured the Senate that specific staff and faculty cuts have just been rumors, and no final decisions have been made yet.

In order to achieve a balanced budget, Ohio U has to increase its revenue and make cuts, Djalali said. Djalali referred to it as a “multi-million dollar savings model,” which is “training our costs so we don’t have to ask for another $65 million.”

Ohio U recently saw an increase in extramural investments through approximately 550 awards for research and sponsored programs, which increased from $54.9 million to $65 million during the last fiscal year, Nellis said. 

With regard to the salaries of the staff and faculty of Ohio U, Senator Cory Crawford said: “Over the past 30 years, the investment in faculty has remained flat, and the increases in revenue through tuition seem to have gone not to our faculty.

“Shouldn’t certain things be prioritized, especially if they are core to the academic mission such as the instructional and research activities of our faculty?”

In response, Djalali spoke of a past 1% increase for faculty salaries which cost the university $3.6 million.

“How many students did that represent?” he asked. “We didn’t have the enrollment to cover that.”

To help enrollment numbers for future years, Ohio U plans to extend programs like engineering to regional campuses so that prospective students, unable to attend the Athens campus, still have a way to obtain a degree.

Katie Hartman, chair of the marketing department in the College of Business, presented to the Senate about recent advancements in the general education reform at Ohio U. 

The new requirements will have students take 40 hours of general education courses that have common goals like written and oral communication or quantitative reasoning.

Senator Helene Siebrits from the College of Fine Arts asked why the new general education model does not include a specific section for the arts and the wide array of programs the university offers.

“I see no creativity on here and that is very sad,” Siebrits said.

Hartman said the general education model is not accepting any new goals at this time.

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