Students react to faculty, staff cuts
In the latest of a series of financially-based cuts made at Maryville College, six faculty and staff members were let go.
According to MC president Dr. Tom Bogart, funds saved by making cuts will free up money for opportunities and assets to which the college would have otherwise not had access.
“There are resources that are made available by cutting these positions,” Bogart said. “One of the uses for these resources might be to hire faculty or other positions. The largest impact is having dollars available to invest in people and programs.”
According to Bogart, Dr. Phillip Sherman, assistant professor of religion; Dr. Beth Lanois, associate professor of French; Dr. Roger Miller, associate professor of physics; Dr. Yuanyuan Ding, assistant professor of computer science and statistics; and assistant professor, collection development librarian and archives liaison Dori May will each serve a terminal year before leaving the college.
As Bogart explained, the final year will ease the transition process and allow budget planning for the 2013-2014 academic year.
“The bulk of the impact of faculty positions doesn’t hit the 2012-2013 budget because all of the faculty were offered what is called a terminal year,” Bogart said. “That’s an unfortunate phrase, but that’s what things are called in academia where there’s an opportunity to stay for one more year … What that does is it lets us start the budget process for the 2013-2014 year with some resources that can be directed to whatever are viewed as the highest priorities.”
Music resource manager Burt Rosevear will not be serving a terminal year and will depart from MC at the end of the semester.
Students have voiced consistent opinions of frustration as a result of the cuts.
“I just want Dr. Sherman to know that he’s a phenomenal professor,” said Lauren Voyles, a junior religion major.
“Dr. Sherman has been integral to my education at Maryville College,” added junior Jordan Tarwater, also a religion major “I think it’s important for Dr. Sherman to know that he is loved here. I was pretty taken aback initially. I didn’t see that coming in the least bit.”
Bogart explained that these reactions were to be expected.
“A strength of Maryville College is the close, personal relationships that develop between faculty and students, among the faculty, and faculty and staff,” Bogart said. “Those same close relationships are what make decisions like this especially painful for everyone concerned.”
As a result of these cuts, two majors and two minors were removed from the curriculum at the college as well.
The chemical physics and art history majors in addition to the physics and French minors will no longer be available to students at Maryville.
MC freshman Jennifer Deaver is one of many students whose courses of study are being affected by the cuts.
“I have been in love with France since my French class in high school; anyone who knows me knows that,” Deaver said. “As an art major, French art and culture has played a big role in art history and my interest on art. Also, I had planned to spend a semester in France to enhance my major, and now that the French program has been cut, even if I can still go, I won’t be able to speak the language and therefore won’t be able to fully experience it.”
Students who had declared majors and minors in the affected areas will be able to finish out their degrees. However, many are still disconcerted at the losses of their program.
“It just seems very strange that a French minor would be eliminated at a liberal arts college,” said sophomore French minor Caitlin Campbell. “I’m concerned about how crowded it’s going to make other language classes.”
Students who had interests in these majors and minors but had yet to declare will most likely be unable to do so.
“Coming to Maryville, the two things I was best at were French and theatre,” said freshman Sara Deatherage. “In high school, I took French really far. I studied French for seven years. I was extremely passionate about it. I was distraught [about the cuts]. [French] is what I wanted to pursue.”
Students whose professors are leaving will have time to finish their courses with adjuncts, possibly from UT.
Some students are concerned that these adjuncts will not be as attentive to their needs as professors from MC.
Others are concerned about the addition of new majors and minors such as design and accounting and whether these will cost more than the programs cut.
“The new majors are not associated with cuts in other programs and the cuts that followed from them,” said Barbara Wells, vice president and dean of the college. “In making painful decisions about program cuts, our goals were to make reductions that impacted the student experience as little as possible … In adding these new majors, no new faculty have been added for staffing these new majors. We are doing it with current resources.”
As Bogart explained, the cuts are a part of a necessary, expansive plan for the future.
“A lot of the discussion is about position cuts,” Bogart said. “If all we were doing is cutting positions, then that would be one thing, but what we’re doing here is … removing some positions in the context of a broader restructuring of the academic programs in line with the strategic planning that’s underway … I think that the new majors that have resulted from looking carefully at what options were already available to students and making them clearer to prospective students and prospective employers are going to be very positive on recruitment, retention and placement of our students after they graduate.
The majority of the new programs are in business, with education, natural sciences and fine arts adding one new major each. Bogart, an economist by training, indicated that the initial response to the new programs has been positive.
“One example that has come up, we had 16 students register as exercise science majors after the program was announced internally,” Bogart said. “And external response to the announcement from employers and others has been very positive.
“So, the cuts are really part of a broader move to position us academically to continue to offer a great liberal arts education, and to do so in a way that makes clear to people not just that they’re going to get a great education, but it will help them advance in their professional career.”