More than 82% of the teaching faculty at Wright State University who are members of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) have signed a pledge to reject any contract that further penalizes faculty for the gross mismanagement of the university.
According to Marty Kich, the President of AAUP-WSU, “Over the last two years, the university has eliminated more than ten percent of its teaching faculty through attrition. Worse, the Board and administration now seem to want to gut the faculty contract to allow for further, rapid reductions in the number of teaching faculty simply to meet immediate budget targets. They seem very willing to ignore the longer-term consequences of having dramatically fewer full-time faculty–less expertise and fewer and larger classes. That’s not the ‘fix’ WSU needs.”
Kich added, “ We are concerned that quality of instruction will be compromised in order to sustain a variety of schemes that were supposed to produce additional revenue streams for the university but have instead, without exception, cost the university tens of millions of dollars.”
It is rare for a public university of Wright State’s size to run even a single year of negative cash flow, never mind four or five consecutive years of negative cash flow. Over those years, the Wright State administration, with the approval of the Board of Trustees, ran through more than $100 million in reserves.
It is important to note that over that half-decade, enrollment at the university was stable, around 17,500 students, give or take 100-200 students in a given year. Likewise, over that half decade, the total salary and benefits of teaching faculty at the university did not amount to more than 17 ½ percent of the university’s budget. To put that in more immediate, pocket-book terms, only 17 ½ cents out of each dollar of tuition go to the full-time faculty engaged in teaching students.
The point of the pledge to signal to the fact-finder and the Board that the faculty will not accept any contract that involves making even deeper cuts to instruction. Additional cuts to instruction will compromise the quality of education being offered to students and may undermine the university’s main sources of revenue.
Kich observed: “Over the past half-decade, when the leadership of AAUP-WSU repeatedly expressed concerns about Wright State’s profligate over-spending, our concerns were dismissed as if we were simply being alarmists or habitually critical. A university administration that ignores meaningful faculty input on things as basic as its budget ends up where Wright State has now found itself—trying to eliminate in a year or two a problem that was created through more than half a decade of irresponsible management. If carried far enough, that approach can very easily end up making the problems much worse.”
More than 85% of the teaching faculty represented by AAUP at Wright State are AAUP members. That percentage is the highest of any university in the state of Ohio.