FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UA faculty to hold a rally and press conference Wednesday July 15, from 12:00 – 1:30 pm
Akron, Ohio — Akron-AAUP, the union that represents the faculty at The University of Akron (UA), is organizing a rally and press conference to support the core mission of the university which is education.
The faculty will rally at the steps of Buchtel Hall, 302 Buchtel Common. There will be several speakers (to be announced).
UA is working to address a reported budget shortfall of $65 million, partially caused by the COVID-19 crisis. To address this deficit, the administration has asked colleges to propose FY21 budgets with cuts ranging from 18% to 35%. As wages and benefits are the major portion of the academic budget, Akron-AAUP is bracing for unprecedented layoffs of faculty. The University of Akron is the only institution in Ohio contemplating cuts this deep, and is the only public or state university that we know of proposing the layoff of tenured, full-time faculty members regardless of rank or years of service.
“We have worked diligently to convince the administration that we can’t cut our way to prosperity,” said Dr. Pam Schulze, who is the director of the Center for Family Studies at UA and the president of Akron-AAUP. “We have urged the administration to make cuts elsewhere, or to use its reserves. We have urged the administration to take a more incremental approach, rather than drastically slash the instructional budget all at once. We offered deeper temporary pay cuts. All of our pleas fell on deaf ears.”
Schulze went on to say “The faculty are concerned about this impact this will have on our students, the university, and the broader community. We don’t believe the university can withstand such a dramatic slashing of the academic budget. We’ve lost 151 faculty since 2016 – we can’t afford to lose more. Academic programs generate revenue for the university. Cutting UA’s main source of revenue at a time like this makes no sense.”
Schulze notes that “The University says it has to make greater cuts than other universities because we are in worse shape. But that’s hard to believe when administrators at similar universities are taking higher voluntary pay cuts than ours, and we are still paying for country club memberships for our coaches and upper administrators. Moreover, it is unclear whether we’ll have a football season this year, and I’ve heard no talk of furloughing coaches or administrators, only faculty and staff. This doesn’t look like shared sacrifice to me.”
UA is celebrating 150 years since its founding as Buchtel College in 1870. It has served generations of the Akron community, and surrounding areas, by providing a quality, higher education experience. The vast majority of the university’s revenue comes from student tuition and fees generated by its academic programs, led by faculty. Athletic programs, on the other hand, lose far more money than they bring in, as the chapter has pointed out in two reports: https://akronaaup.org/akron-aaup-position-paper-on-athletics-spending-at-the-university-of-akron/ and https://akronaaup.org/akron-aaup-corrects-the-universitys-response-on-athletics/. Professor Schulze also posted an open letter to the UA Board of Trustees that has over 1,000 signature so far.
After years of declining enrollment, a reduction in financial support from the state, and the budgetary effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, UA is rushing to make changes that will have a long-lasting, detrimental impact on the university and the future of educational opportunity for students in Northeast Ohio.
We MUST protect our students and our mission and stop this institution’s decline.
Nationally, AAUP’s mission is to advance academic freedom and shared governance; to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education; to promote the economic security of faculty and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education; to help the higher education community organize to make our goals a reality; and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good. AAUP was founded in 1915 and is the representative body for faculty at more than 500 colleges and universities in the US. The Akron chapter of AAUP has been the sole bargaining representative of the faculty since 2003.