Education

Jul 11, 2011 11:47 PM by Maddie Garrett

UL faculty say cuts/layoffs not fair to professors

An entire doctoral program and two tenured professors are being phased out at UL, but some faculty members don't think the cuts are fair. UL's Cognitive Sciences program is the only PhD program of its kind in Louisiana, but it won't be around by May 2013.

The University claims it's a low completer program and decided to phase it out to save money. But department staff say otherwise and are upset by how the program and its faculty are being let go.

"You feel disrespected," said Mike Kalish, a tenure professor in the Cognitive Sciences Program.

Kalish came to UL about 10 years ago from the University of California San Diego. He was hired as a tenure professor to help start the Cognitive Sciences program. But in 2013 he'll be out of a job .

"I left a good university to come here and help build this program, a tenured job at a good university, and so it makes me feel pretty bad to have my tenure revoked, it makes me feel like I made a bad decision to come to Louisiana to try to work here," he said.

UL's Cognitive Science program was being looked at as a low completer, because in a three year period it produced five graduates. But after a five year period there 10 graduates from the program and the UL system recommended to continue the program. But then Kalish said something changed.

"And then the last minute, sort of late at night there was a phone call between the University Administration and the Board of Regents staff, that changed our recommendation from continue to discontinued," explained Kalish.

Kalish said at that point, he and another tenure professor had a verbal agreement with UL staff that they would still have a position teaching once the program was phased out. But two weeks ago Kalish found that won't be the case either.

"So the regulations used to say that they had to find us new places. Now they say they only have to find us, move faculty to a new department, if there's an open tenure line within that department. And in hard economic times that's never the case," said Kalish.

In April the UL System Board of Supervisors made some major changes to the rules that made it easier to terminate tenure professors.

"It is a travesty when tenured professors are being given letters of termination," Istvan Berkley, the president of UL's chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

UL staff has maintained that the cuts are all to save money, but the changes now have faculty worried.

"Perhaps they wish the University to become a community college on steroids, in which case it is not a university," said Berkley.

Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Carolyn Bruder did send a written response stating UL will offer letters of support for the tenure faculty losing their jobs. The University has also said that more letters of termination could be given to tenure faculty as part of budget cuts.

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