Cuts eliminating vacant positions

Elizabeth Beilman

Although budget cuts for the 2011-2012 fiscal year call for eliminated faculty and staff positions, President Gary Ransdell said Monday that those spots are currently vacant.

“Our first priority has been to protect core academic programs and university operations and lay as few people off as possible,” Ransdell said. “We wanted to avoid things that affect the personal lives of as many of our employees as possible.”

 The largest chunk of the cuts will be from the division of Academic Affairs, which totals almost $1.5 million. More than $1.2 million of that comes from personnel reductions, according to a document Ransdell attached to the letter.

Eliminated positions in Academic Affairs include seven full-time faculty, five full-time staff and three part-time transitional retiree faculty positions, according to the document.

All of those positions are currently vacant, Ransdell said.

Campus Services and Facilities will also lose five positions.

Heading into the latest round of cuts, there were 747 full-time faculty members at WKU, said Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

“We simply don’t have the resources to put as many faculty in the classroom as we otherwise would be able to,” Emslie said.

Emslie said the eliminated positions are recommended by deans to him before being approved. He said he tried to protect some divisions, such as Enrollment Management.

“Different colleges have handled this in different ways,” he said. “Some units ended up with a smaller cut than others.”

WKU officials across the board, from Ransdell to the division of Finance and Administration, have said the cuts could have been worse.

“Other states are having much more draconian measures taken,” Emslie said.

Patti Minter, associate history professor and faculty regent, said the cuts will still have a large impact.

“You can’t maintain the same quality of academics with fewer faculty members,” she said. “Cutting any faculty lines is a cut that will be difficult to heal.”

Minter said during the course of Gary Ransdell’s presidency, state legislators have urged WKU to grow without giving the university adequate funding to do so.

She said she saw faculty positions cut during her first month as a faculty regent in December 2007.

“Ever since then, we have been faced with cut after cut while the growth has remained constant,” Minter said.

With more vacant faculty positions, the university would have to hire part-time or adjunct members, who are hired to teach one course for a semester, she said.

Minter said this could result in less stability for academics.

“We need every tuition dollar we can get, and now we’re cutting jobs,” she said. “Our mission is academics, and this should be the one place that should not be cut.”