Another American campus launched a queen sacrifice this week.
(“Queen sacrifice” refers to when a college or university cuts tenure-track faculty members. The source of the phrase is chess, where queens are the most powerful piece, as tenure-track faculty are, in theory, the most powerful members of an academic community. In the game giving up the queen is a desperate move, often an attempt to wrest victory from a very bad situation, and so it seems to be for colleges and universities axing people in those positions. You can find many examples of this academic strategy being used here, alas.)
That’s about 12% of the faculty base https://t.co/rEaWQL35yx
— Kris Olds (@GlobalHigherEd) April 13, 2021
Academic programs being cut include “majors in German and Nordic Studies, minors in Classical Studies, German and Norwegian, and the Master of Science in Finance degree.” According to this statement,
the Division of Humanities saw the most cuts, followed by the Division of Social Sciences, the School of Arts and Communication and the Division of Natural Sciences. The schools of Nursing and Education & Kinesiology faced no recommended reductions, and the School of Business only one.
Why is Pacific Lutheran doing this? The reasons are unsurprising: “the university was facing financial exigency stemming from declining enrollment, anticipated budget shortfalls and impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Cuts won’t hit for another year, which gives time to teach out some majors, and for faculty to start job hunting.
Some quick observations:
Note that most of the cuts are in the humanities. This is typical for queen sacrifices.
Note, too, the huge pressure of declining enrollment.
Pacific Lutheran has some related recent history. The AAUP censured them last year for firing a long-serving adjunct faculty member.
As I’ve been saying for years, watch for more queen sacrifices.