By John Reed
At the beginning of October, administrative officials at ESU withdrew a letter of intent to retrench that was sent to the faculty union on July 30.
According to President Marcia G. Welsh, the administration took a number of issues into account that contributed to the withdrawal of the retrenchment letter. Some of these factors include the recent increase in student enrollment, the initial success of academic program changes implemented within the last academic year, and more effective cost management.
This will allow the faculty to have a sense of security moving forward, knowing that jobs will not be lost through the 2014-2015 academic year.
“…The University’s first enrollment increase in four years this fall, combined with changes in academic programs implemented last year, have made a significant impact on this year’s financial picture,” said Welsh.
She continued, “The outlook for ESU’s 2014-2015 budget appears to be much brighter based on this enrollment growth, coupled with other revenue enhancements received by the university.”
Despite the recent news, the administration plans to move forward with its intent to place the music program in moratorium at the end of the academic year and will continue to follow the provisions of the faculty collective bargaining agreement, which expires June 30, 2015.
The music program’s shutdown will include the entirety of the department, which means the university will no longer offer any three-credit music courses.
“I can report that faculty all around campus are appalled by this decision. Music is an important discipline,” said President of ESU-APSCUF Nancy Van-Arsdale.
She continued, “If this happens, ESU will be a very unusual college that does not give college students the chance to learn anything about music history or theory in classes.”
Also still in effect is the first retrenchment letter that the administration sent to APSCUF in June. This is an important distinction because it is tied to the music program. This letter means that two current music faculty members with tenure will potentially lose their jobs.
Van-Arsdale and other like-minded faculty members continue to urge the administration to save music as an academic department, as well as its three-credit classes.
“For the current year, we need to work closely with faculty to continue to examine and evaluate all of our academic programs to ensure they are strong, current, and best serve student interest and Commonwealth need,” countered Welsh.
Welsh also said, “Although the budget is obviously a concern, equally important is the quality of our academic programs.”
She continued, “We currently have 15 searches underway for tenure-track faculty positions in programs that have demonstrated growth and that have demonstrated their ability to serve our students’ interests and Commonwealth need. Moving forward, we must maintain our focus on programs that ensure we have created a stronger future for our institution.”
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