6 WKU colleges face empty faculty position eliminations

Emma Collins

In an effort to reduce the university’s budget, WKU has decided to leave a number of currently open faculty positions unfilled in the 2016-2017 academic year.

Due to state budget cuts, WKU must reduce its budget by $6,039,200. Several programs will be consolidated, reorganized or eliminated. Vacant faculty positions will also be strategically eliminated as a part of this plan.

During the announcement of the budget reduction plan at a media briefing Wednesday, President Gary Ransdell said the reductions kept in mind the goal to protect current faculty positions and academic programs.

“Our priority has always been to protect people, preserve academic quality and maintain student services, and that continues to be my goal,” Ransdell said.

In an email, David Lee, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said six colleges will lose unfilled faculty positions.

The six colleges include the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, the College of Health and Human Services, Gordon Ford College of Business, Ogden College of Science and Engineering, Potter College of Arts and Letters and University College. Open positions in University Libraries will also remain unfilled.

Craig Cobane, the executive director for the Honors College, said the Honors College will not be affected.

“The Honors College had no open faculty lines, so faculty or sections for next year are not [affected] by this latest set of state cuts,” Cobane said.

Currently, most of the colleges have not yet released any information about how these unfilled faculty positions will affect next semester’s classes.

The department of modern languages, however, is already anticipating a reduction in the number of classes of Spanish 102 that will be offered.

Laura McGee, the head of the modern languages department, said the department is currently short one faculty member for Spanish. Because of this, the department will not be able to offer the number of Spanish 102 classes that have been offered in the past.

McGee said she expects that the department will be able to fill the position despite the budget reduction plan.

“No one has indicated to me that we need to stop that search,” McGee said. “That search is continuing.”

McGee said there are other options for students who were planning to take Spanish 102 to fulfill their language requirement.

These options include testing out of a language class or choosing to study another language besides Spanish. In addition to Spanish, other languages such as Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese and Russian are offered. Many of these languages still have openings in the introductory classes.

In his email, Lee also included a list of the other schools and departments that will have unfilled faculty positions.

Schools include the School of University Studies, School of Nursing and School of Teacher Education. Departments include public health, finance, management, chemistry, math, physics, astronomy, philosophy and religion.

According to the budget, the elimination of these empty positions will save the university $942,000.