Queen sacrifice in Pennsylvania

Another queen sacrifice appeared this week, this time in PennsylvaniaKeystone College will end two academic programs and lay off both faculty and staff.

Keystone College logoThe programs are majors in geology and the visual arts.  According to one local report, 16 people will lose their jobs, including a dozen staff and four tenure-track professors.

The reasons for doing so seem not to be grounded in immediate crisis.  According to Keystone president Tracy L. Brundage, this is a strategic anticipation of enrollment and demographic trends likely to have an impact in the future:

educational institutions throughout the state and the nation are facing a more challenging environment than ever due to the decline in the numbers of available college students both now and projected into the future.

Keystone also went through something like an academic program prioritization exercise.  Again, president Brundage: “we spent several months engaging the campus community in conversations regarding how to best align our college to better serve our students and become even more relevant in the degrees and programs we offer.”  It looks like geology and the visual arts lost out, probably in terms of enrollment and/or majors.

Unusually, Keystone is also cutting some sports (men’s and women’s golf and tennis) as well.

This is an interesting case of the queen sacrifice strategy.  It’s apparently a future-oriented move, not a reaction to a current crisis, and therefore reminds me of Gordon’s cuts.  It’s a relatively small-scale move as well.  Based on Wikipedia‘s student enrollment number (1400) and the college’s posted 11:1 student:faculty ratio, I estimate around 125 faculty; cutting 4 is about a 3% loss.  That’s painful for all concerned, but not a huge proportion of Keystone’s total professoriate (please correct me if my numbers are off).

I can’t tell why geology and the visual arts were targeted.  The latter might have fallen prey to the ongoing humanities decline.

This story has received very little coverage so far.  That means I haven’t been able to learn about other queen sacrifice dimensions: faculty participation in the decisions; outcomes for students; etc.

My best wishes to the faculty, staff, and students impacted.

(thanks to Lee Skallerup Bessette)

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9 Responses to Queen sacrifice in Pennsylvania

  1. Dahn Shaulis says:

    NCES from 2016-17 reported 57 full-time and 156 part-time faculty. The school has saved money through adjunctification.

  2. Dahn Shaulis says:

    Bryan, did you notice that Keystone College is adding a football team? Is this madness or what? I wonder what other crazy ideas they have. Football is a high-risk proposition at best.

    https://www.keystone.edu/2019/05/faqs/

  3. Sarah says:

    I got into an argument with one of my faculty who is NOT interested in changing anything and stated that “Their job is ALWAYS secure. Higher Education isn’t going away.” I pulled up your queenssacrifice posts and, well, the reaction was not great. Thank you for reporting on this. Higher Education is changing and must change and adapt to survive.

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