Valdosta State conducts a queen sacrifice

Valdosta State UniversityValdosta State University in Georgia will fire a group of faculty and staff in what looks like a standard queen sacrifice.

Colleen Flaherty reports that VSU will be “laying off 33 staff and faculty members, including some on the tenure track”.  Announcements went out this week.  I think that means impacted staff and faculty get to work and look for work for the next academic year, rather than being unemployed immediately.

Last week, non-tenure-track and tenure-track faculty members affected by the cuts received calls or emails asking them to meet with their dean. In 15-minute appointments, one after the other, the faculty members were notified that declining enrollment and related budgetary concerns made it impossible for the university to retain them. The university has not released the exact number of tenure-track professors it’s letting go.

The article outlines some familiar features, such as campus leadership’s argument that declining enrollment and reduced state support have caused financial problems.

Cecil P. Staton, interim president, blamed the cuts on a 17 percent enrollment decline since the university’s peak in 2011.

“In preparing the budget for 2016-2017, Valdosta State University’s enrollment decline translates into a state funds decline of $2.4 million,” he wrote. “Loss of tuition income results in a further $1 million reduction in revenue. Both must be accounted for in the new budget proposal.”

According to one local report, 18 open positions have gone unfilled this year, “meaning the total number of positions eliminated by VSU is actually 51.”

Interestingly, VSU’s president has only been in the office a few weeks, since this July 1st.  Perhaps making these cuts is his charge.

The IHE article suggests these cuts might not occur in the usual queen sacrifice setting:

There was talk of declining enrollment since 2011, but no sense of crisis and no declaration of financial exigency. The cuts also seemed haphazard, since some laid-off faculty members in the sciences said they actually made money for the university in external grants.

There hasn’t been a declaration of financial exigency, but institutions doing queen sacrifices rarely claim that status.

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