To the Editor:

The already announced and forthcoming layoffs at Ohio University are the wrong way forward. They will damage the university and tarnish its image, all at the expense of the most vulnerable members of our university community.

While exacerbated by the coronavirus, the source of our current financial difficulties lay elsewhere, including poor financial planning, disproportionate growth in administration, and unrealistic enrollment projections (find links to sources in the online version of this letter at www.athensnews.com).

Beginning with cuts of union workers who keep our university running – as opposed to starting with lowering pay for those with the highest salaries, furloughs, or reductions in administration – makes it clear whom the administration values.

Planned cuts to instructional faculty will undermine the university’s ability to deliver high-quality academics and scholarship. These cuts will lead to more courses taught by adjunct instructors who are paid appallingly low wages. Moreover, while we have many outstanding adjunct faculty, with limited protections it is harder for adjunct instructors to challenge students, reimagine curriculum in compelling ways, or push back on other faculty and university leadership.

Real leadership would bring the faculty (instructional and tenure track) in as a partner in making decisions, limit the size and compensation-levels of the administration, and possibly involve a progressive furlough (similar to what other colleges and universities have implemented) that begins with higher cuts for the most highly paid while minimizing the impact on those who make the least.

Mathew Felton-Koestler

Associate Professor of Teacher Education

Ohio University

Athens

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