It’s Worse Than I Thought

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?


12 Responses to It’s Worse Than I Thought

  1. Eeek! Hope that’s all the damage … you’re in my prayers.

  2. Dave says:

    Being chair during this time would NOT be easy at all. You’re going to be involved in the firings of the faculty. Keep strong and keep your eyes out for other new opportunities!

    • SS4BC says:

      I know you’re right. The current chair’s office is right next to mine. He’s asked me three times in the last two days if I want to take over starting now. Half in jest.

      He has to go tell all the computer science majors next week that they’ve dropped their major and fired all their faculty. I’m sure that won’t be a fun meeting.

  3. LindyMint says:

    Not the best way to start a Wednesday. Good luck in weathering the storm. It will all work out, but I feel your pain.

  4. findingserenity2010 says:

    I hate the condition of academia right now. It’s so hard to find jobs, and hearing that people can’t keep theirs, even after years of hard work and service, is a hard pill to swallow.

    What I want to know is just how carefully are the powers that be trying to save money in other ways? Everyone has to make some sacrifices in times like this, but to make people who are already struggling (i.e. community college adjuncts like me) take huge hits to their class loads? How could they expect someone to live while only teaching one or two classes and getting no benefits? Ridiculous.

    I wish you the best of luck, especially when you take over as chair. It’s probably not going to get much easier.

  5. eemusings says:

    OMG. I have my fingers crossed very tightly…this should not be happening to you.

  6. joshuca says:

    WOW! That is absolutely insane. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I pray that you find the path that works best for you. I couldn’t imagine having to go through the entire job search process all over again so soon after finding what I thought of as a dream job. Just keep focused on the future and be open to all potential avenues!

  7. Jane says:

    Ugh! I’ve never commented before but wanted to tell you I have my fingers crossed for you. I’m s graduate student at a university that’s had similar issues, but never went as far as firing people. I was a part of the committee charged with reformatting the curriculum and it. was. awful. Those are horrible decisions to make, even when it’s for the better of the school, and it’s a horrible position to be in all around. And while they (probably) won’t get rid of the chair… Do you really want to be the one making those decisions??? Ugh. My thoughts are with you.

  8. Serendipity says:

    Layoffs are scary. Hopefully, you will be safe!

  9. I’m sorry I didn’t get to read this post earlier. I’m glad to read that you’re safe though. What a relief.

  10. Pingback: At Least I Have a Job « Small Steps for Big Change

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