Recently, we published an analysis of enrollment, including full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment and numbers of full-time faculty (FTF) over a period of 33 years at The University of Akron (UA).
With our estimates of a 12% drop in enrollment and the current number of full-time faculty at that time, the ratio of FTE enrollment to FTF was still within one standard deviation from the mean of 24.6:1 at 22.6:1. However, the recent Board of Trustees’ actions have created a significant change to those predictions.
From President Gary Miller’s 7/15/2020 communication to employees.
Today we took the painful step of eliminating 97 faculty positions, 60 staff employee and 21 contract professional positions. The Board of Trustees also approved:
the voluntary resignations of six faculty, eight contract professionals and six staff members, and
the voluntary retirements of 15 faculty, 13 contract professionals and 36 staff members.
In total, there was a net loss to full-time faculty of 118. That drops the number of FTF from 556 to 438 (that’s a 21.2% decrease). If we accept the administration’s prediction of a 15% drop in enrollment (we used a 15% drop in FTE in our graph), then the ratio of FTE to FTF skyrockets to a value of 28.7:1. This value is far outside the +/- one standard deviation of prior ratios, calculated over a 33 year period. We have not seen this value since 2011 (also at 28.7:1) when the university entered an unsustainable situation that was far too heavily dependent upon part-time faculty (during the enrollment bubble shown in the graph below). It is easy to see in the graph below that the drop in enrollment began immediately after 2011 and has continued on this trend.
We remind the Administration, Board of Trustees, faculty, students, and community that this type of ratio is a way to provide an estimate of how many faculty are available to teach students. Indeed, several common rankings, including the U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges,” feature this type of ratio as an indicator of the quality of instruction. Despite the Administration’s assurancess, a ratio of students to full-time instructors this high cannot help but impact the quality of education.
President Gary Miller’s 7/15/2020 communication to UA students and parents stated the following:
We made today’s reductions with great care to preserve academic quality.
Departing faculty taught about 10 percent of the credit hours in the spring semester, meaning most students this fall will continue to see familiar faculty members leading classes and mentoring them through internships, service learning and research projects.
Classes required for graduation will not be impacted.
All accreditations and academic rankings continue.
But we can see from our data as well as through feedback from those on the “cut list” that academics (including graduation rates and enrollment) will be significantly impacted by the recently approved cuts. This will, in turn, affect the university’s state subvention for instruction (SSI) and will affect the accreditation of academic programs.
We cannot afford to “cut our way to prosperity” by cutting off our major revenue-generating employees at the university – full-time faculty.
Nor can the university afford larger class sizes, more contingent faculty, and restrictions to students’ ability to graduate on time.
We believe that in order to preserve the quality of education provided to our current and future students, NO full-time faculty should be cut.
The Communications Committee of Akron-AAUP