BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Upwards of 23 professors could be losing their jobs at Canisius College, in Buffalo.
According to president of the American Association of University Professors at the school, the Board of Trustees is looking to cut $2.5 million from faculty lines in the budget.
“What has happened this week, is that the board of trustees of Canisius College has taken a sharp, unusual and what most of us think, a very foolhardy turn,” explained Dr. Tanya Loughead, a professor of philosophy and the president of the American Association of University Professors at Canisius.
The school released this statement:
“Canisius College is in the midst of making changes during these very challenging, difficult, unprecedented times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic."
“We are not going to survive looking exactly like every other small college in the United States that becomes vocational. That is not a successful way forward for us,” said Loughead.
In a statement the AAUP said these are the proposed cuts to the best of their knowledge:
Proposed cuts ordered by the Board of Trustees include:
• Chemistry: 2 faculty members must “voluntarily” separate or terminations will happen starting with most recent hire (all are tenured) • Classics: major and department to be eliminated, 1 faculty member to be terminated (tenured)
• Communications: 1 program to be eliminated, 1 faculty member to be terminated (tenured)
• Counseling: 1 faculty member must “voluntarily” separate or terminations will happen starting with most recent hire (all are tenured) • English: 1 faculty member to be terminated (tenure-track)
• Fine Arts: major and department to be eliminated, 2 faculty members to be terminated (one tenured and one clinical)
• History: 3 faculty must “voluntarily” separate or terminations will happen starting with most recent hire (all are tenured)
• Management: 2 programs to be eliminated, 3 faculty members to be terminated (one with tenure, two tenure-track).
• Philosophy: 3 faculty members must “voluntarily” separate or terminations will happen starting with most recent hire (a 4th faculty member moved into administration so Philosophy will lose 4 total) (all are tenured)
• Religious Studies and Theology: major to be eliminated, 2 faculty members to be terminated (both are tenured)
• Teacher Education: 3 faculty members to be terminated (all are tenured).
According to the AAUP, the Board of Trustees is not following the guidelines for laying-off untenured faculty that are in the Canisius College Faculty Handbook. Additionally, the AAUP said the national standards for laying-off tenured faculty members are not being followed.
The AAUP statement said these are steps that need to be taken to lay off tenured professors:
"The university (1) declares financial exigency, and (2) performs a thorough and transparent program review according to shared governance principles. Canisius has done neither thus far."
The AAUP said multiple lawsuits will arise from the cuts.
Laying off excellent faculty and weakening or eliminating strong programs will not bring financial stability to the College over time. The proposed cuts would make Canisius indistinguishable from the hundreds of other universities in the nation following the playbook of vocational “program prioritization” – so common that it has become a cliché.
There's currently a change.org petition with over 3,000 signatures, demanding the professors keep their jobs.
According to the AAUP statement, alumni are planing a rally against the cuts and have set up a GoFundMe for costs associated with the planned lawsuits.
“If I had not taken their class in my freshman year, I probably would've dropped out. So, there's a relationship with the professors that kept me here and that’s why I'm still here,” Explained Canisius Senior Aaron Clift.
“We're asking the trustees to think about this more or to engage in some of that famous Jesuit reflection, about what is the best way forward,” said Loughead.
The Chair of the Board of Trustees, Lee C. Wortham said the college had enrollment and financial struggles prior to COVID-19.
"Those challenges have only been exacerbated by Covid-19," Wortham said in a letter to faculty. "Shortfalls in enrollment, room and board revenue and auxiliary revenue because of the extended shutdown and the new social distancing requirements, coupled with new expenses associated with reopening the campus in a safe manner has created a significant budget gap.
The college stated the president would be addressing the college's community on Monday with more information.