It is certain that some faculty and staff members at National Louis University will lose their jobs as the university closes some departments in the latest round of budget cuts there. But the number of employees at risk depends on who you ask.
The university’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors said Thursday that about 60 to 80 tenured and non-tenured faculty members would lose their jobs, which is about a fifth of the instructional staff at the institution. But Nivine Megahed, the university’s president, said that the AAUP’s numbers were inflated and might include faculty members who had been offered and accepted voluntary buyout offers.
In an interview Thursday evening, Megahed declined to disclose details but did confirm that the university will shut some departments. “We will have more information in the next four or five weeks. From a broader perspective, we have had a prioritization process over the last year. Some academic units will close, some will be re-engineered and some will be enhanced,” she said.
Todd Alan Price, the AAUP chapter president at the university and an associate professor of education, said closing entire departments and reducing faculty numbers would compromise the academic mission of the university. He cited a recent report by the Collective Bargaining Congress of the AAUP which said that the university was not in dire financial straits and that “administrative savings” should be the first step in cutting costs. The report asked for a reduction of administrators' salaries or a reduction in the number of administrators.
Megahed said the AAUP report was based on outdated and incomplete data. “I would say that if you look at the entire picture, there are serious fiscal pressures on the university and we will have to take action immediately,” she said. Enrollment at the university’s National College of Education has declined by about 40 percent in the last five years, Megahed said, and added to the pressures on the university.
The university laid off some faculty members and staff in 2011. National Louis’s Faculty Association has called a special meeting today. The university’s Faculty Senate is also scheduled to meet with the president today.