Another queen sacrifice in Ohio

Ashland UniversityA “bright future”: that’s how Ashland University‘s president described what lies ahead for his campus as a result of laying off 23 faculty members.

Kellie Woodhouse reports for Inside Higher Ed on this latest example of a queen sacrifice:

32 of roughly 240 full-time faculty positions are being eliminated: nine through attrition and 23 through layoffs… Fourteen tenured faculty were laid off, along with three tenure-track faculty members.

How big is this cut?  “[T]he changes amount to a 15 percent reduction of the faculty personnel budget.”  Affected departments: “The disciplines affected are wide-ranging, from communications to music and computer science to business management.”

The rationale?  As you might expect, serious financial stresses:

[president Carlos] Campo says the institution has experienced financial difficulty since 2008.

Faculty members, for example, have not received a raise for five years and have had their benefits significantly reduced. And in December 2014 Ashland received a junk bond rating from Moody’s. The rating agency characterized its outlook as negative, citing variable operating performance, debt (Ashland that year had nearly $70 million in debt) and a failure to hit its 2014 enrollment target. Moody’s no longer rates the institution.

Unlike other queen sacrifices, declining enrollment doesn’t seem to be a problem, at least this year, according to Woodhouse:

At Ashland, enrollment is on an incline. The university had a total enrollment of 5,430 in 2014, up from 5,150 the year before, according to federal data. And this year enrollment is looking positive, Campo said.

I wonder how 2014 and 2015 compare to 2012 and earlier years.

Said president Campo has only been in that position for a little over two months.

An earlier news report (only freely available in part) anticipated this move.  Note the emphases:

Ashland University administrators concluded that the school needs to reallocate $3 million to keep tuition low, restore campuswide priorities and maintain the quality of an Ashland education. The money will go toward the online education program, campus safety and the reinstallment of various campus activities, including a junior varsity men’s basketball team.

Where will that money come from?

To formally restructure programs and reallocate money, another round of faculty and staff cuts are possible. A committee will look at areas to reduce faculty, tenured and nontenured, in programs across all four colleges.

Does that really suggest AU will cut faculty to grow a sports team, among other things?

Across American higher education, queen sacrifices continue to appear.

(thanks to Dave Mazella and  Carrie Schroeder for pointing out the link on Twitter; logo via Wikipedia)

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1 Response to Another queen sacrifice in Ohio

  1. Sounds like the old joke about losing money on every unit but planning to make it up in volume.

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