A Hawaii university sacrifices the queen

Hawaii Pacific UniversityAnother American campus decided to make a queen sacrifice, as Hawaii Pacific University laid off faculty.  This looks like it follows the familiar pattern.

Faculty let go, check: “18 out of 251 full-time professors did not have their contracts renewed at the end of the school year.”  That’s 7% of faculty.

Affected departments have lower students numbers, check: “School officials have told staff some of those cuts came in HPU departments where enrollment no longer could justify the current number of faculty.”  I can’t tell which departments these are.

Overall enrollment crisis, present: “HPU enrollment decreased by nearly 10 percent from 7.462 in the fall of 2012 to 6,736 in the fall of 2013, a school spokeswoman said”.

Resulting financial crisis, yes: “A year ago, HPU officials admitted the school was dealing with an operating deficit.”

This new move also follows previous cost-cutting strategies:

Sources said approximately 14 other staff and faculty took early-retirement buyouts from the school earlier this spring.  Some of those whose contracts had not been renewed had been offered buyouts but turned them down, sources said…

[I]n May and June 2013 HPU laid off nearly 24 administrative staffers, cut some part-time faculty and eliminated about 60 sections of courses.

And a general cut to retirement benefits: “HPU is reducing retirement benefits for all employees, with annual employer contributions going from 11-percent of their salaries to six percent of their pay…”

However, campus construction continues. “HPU is building $30 million worth of dorms and other education facilities at Aloha Tower Marketplace, a project that school officials will not be affected by the budget cuts.”

HPU‘s case offers some variations on the usual queen sacrifice.  For example, there’s a military and federal angle here: “the drop was primarily with part-time students, “especially in military campus programs due to federal budget sequestration.”

There is also strong local competition in the form of the University of Hawaii.

HPU has faced more competition from the University of Hawaii for a number of reasons, including the opening of the new UH West Oahu campus in the last year. UH has also made progress in recent years in restoring previously cut classes, so fewer frustrated UH students are transferring to HPU.

Moreover, there’s no tenure.  “HPU faculty members, who are not unionized and do not have tenure protection, have been told not to speak to the news media about the budget cuts. ”  That last bit might resonate with some Northern New Mexico faculty.

And perhaps this is what colleges and universities look like after peak higher education.  Listen to one professor:

One faculty member who asked not to be identified said…”We are positioning ourselves to be a leaner, meaner, smaller university. When that happens, you need less faculty and staff…”

We might be hearing many, many repetitions of that statement over the next couple of years.

(thanks to Stephen Landry for the link; logo via Wikipedia)

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