Turmoil doesn’t begin to describe the current situation at the University of Akron (UA). The Akron-AAUP needs our help.
On July 15, the Board of Trustees, at the recommendation of President Gary Miller, terminated 97 full-time faculty positions, 96 of which were part of the Akron-AAUP bargaining unit, and 70 of which were tenured professors.
The trustees and president should rescind this decision or resign their positions.
The administration reopened the collective bargaining agreement with the faculty union by invoking the “force majeure” section of the contract. They are claiming that the pandemic and associated financial difficulties qualifies as the kind of “catastrophic” event that allows them to make reductions in force outside the scope of the contract.
Akron-AAUP has contested the use of force majeure. They also have presented the administration with various alternatives to eliminating these positions, such as reductions in administrative salaries and reforming athletics expenditures. However, the administration outright rejected such proposals. Upper-level administrators took only small, temporary pay cuts, and athletics was cut just $4 million as opposed to the $16 million cut from academics.
With the pandemic, we have come to a point where the longstanding rationalizations of these skewed priorities are no longer sustainable. In reality, COVID-19 merely exacerbated years of financial mismanagement by those in charge at UA. Faculty didn’t cause these problems, and faculty and students shouldn’t have to pay the price. Balancing the university budget on the backs of the very faculty that generate the revenue for the institution is penny-wise and pound foolish.
We are asking for support from fellow faculty, students, alumni, the community, and others in contacting the trustees and president and telling them they must rescind these layoffs and work with Akron-AAUP to develop a more equitable and sustainable plan that prioritizes education. If they are not willing, they should resign.
Click here to send a message to the UA trustees and president.
While we are primarily concerned for faculty jobs, academic integrity, and student success at UA, there are, of course, broader implications for faculty contracts and tenure if these terminations are allowed to stand. Help defend UA, faculty unions, and AAUP principles by taking action through the above link.