It’s Worse Than I Thought
January 12, 2011 12 Comments
I came in to work today greeted by the member of my department who has been here the longest and the chair of my department.
Both were making comments that things were bad. I asked how bad. How could they be worse?
“They’ve laid off 25 faculty members. Four from our department.”
I stood their in shock.
The school has declared a “state of emergency” to be able to break contracts with faculty members. This “state of emergency” will last for 6 months. Anyone can be fired at any time, regardless of their contract during this time.
Three of the four faculty members that were laid from our department have been here over 15 years, this would have been the 25 year for one of them. One of them was hired full time the same time as me. They’ve all been offered the option to teach the classes they’re scheduled to teach in the fall as adjuncts – so they get adjunct pay (WAY less money and no regular pay checks) and no benefits.
This isn’t a “I may not have 5 years” fear anymore. This is now a “I may not have a job next week” thing. They are trying to cut all majors that have a low number of students in them. Chemistry is one of those majors. While my lower division classes are full because other majors need Chemistry, my upper division classes are pathetically small (I had a class of 3 students last semester).
The reality is that if they cut the Chemistry major (a real possibility at this point) only one faculty member is necessary to teach everything. An intro Chem class for nursing majors, General Chem for biology and kinesiology majors, and Organic Chem for biology and pre-med students, Biochemistry for biology and pre-med students. That only requires ONE chemistry faculty (and maybe an adjunct to do labs). If they dropped the pre-med program then they could drop Organic Chemistry and then 1 faculty without an adjunct would be feasible. Did I mention I’m one of two faculty members in Chemistry?
So now I’m frightened.
That pit in my stomach has gotten even larger.
I’m not sure I’m ready to look at options for another position somewhere else (I still love Kansas City) but I’ll be keeping my eyes out for positions in the area for sure. Except, I will call the Dean of my undergrad and let him know that my application is still active. That’s the only place I’d WANT to move to right now.
The only true security I can see for myself right now is taking that Chair’s position. They wouldn’t fire the chair… would they?