April is the cruelest month, and some American colleges and universities are showing their agreement with that sentiment by cutting more staff and faculty. As my readers know, these new cutters are not alone.
Some details: once more the humanities are hit. The rationale here is typical, based on quantitative demand: “[UO’s College of Arts and Sciences dean] Marcus… said humanities classes have drawn fewer students in recent years.”
Why are these cuts happening? You, dear reader, already know the drill by now. First, university revenue is dropping. After an uptick in student numbers during the financial crisis, “enrollment has dropped in recent years” and there is “less funding from the state of Oregon”. Second, campus expenses are growing, namely the “steadily rising cost of employees’ pay and benefits”. So, overall, “the university has to cut $8.8 million in spending next year to balance its budget”.
There’s another enrollment angle having to do with international students and Trump, too. As I and others have been saying,
a drop of international student enrollment — brought by changes in the global economy and concerns over President Trump’s attempts to limit travel to the United States from six Muslim-majority countries — have led to lower enrollment in classed offered by the American English Institute.
But wait, there’s more! as the commercial use to say. Or less, really, or fewer:
The College of Education and other schools at the university, including the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, are also likely to see faculty and staff reductions before the start of the next school year, UO Provost and Senior Vice President Scott Coltrane said.
For another example of American universities struggling with sustainability this month, UMass Boston is firing its chancellor because of similar problems.
[D]espite its new buildings and increased stature, the campus faces a deficit of up to $30 million, declining enrollment, overdue construction projects, and weakening fund-raising, according to UMass officials.
(Finances and enrollment… perhaps I should create an animated gif for that pair, so I don’t have to keep typing it so frequently.)
Faculty and staff who criticize the firing as being racially motivated don’t seem to disagree with the existence of UMB’s financial and enrollment problems.
I hate blogging about this trend. But it’s a real one. It doesn’t get enough attention. And it points to major forces reshaping higher education.
There will be more.