The American Association of University Professors announced Wednesday that it has launched an investigation into the cuts at Emporia State University last month, which saw 33 faculty members—including numerous tenured professors—dismissed due to financial issues.
The move was made amid declining enrollment and a dour financial outlook through a workforce-management policy approved by the Kansas Board of Regents that allowed Emporia State to dismiss employees, including tenured professors. The policy grew out of financial concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to allow Kansas colleges to shed employees quickly.
The AAUP argued in a press release that the terminations were made “without any meaningful faculty participation and without affording the affected faculty members academic due process.” The AAUP described the cuts as a “direct assault on tenure and academic freedom.”
In the aftermath of the cuts, ESU officials have promised to reinvest savings into the university, building up certain programs strategically. Early announcements of the departments tapped for reinvestment at Emporia State include art, computer science and nursing, with more to come.