In the last two months, UA leadership has learned that within the context of budgetary decisions, deans at several colleges are using the ratio of tenure track faculty to undergraduate student credit hours (TTF/UG SCH) to reallocate resources in ways that fundamentally impact academic programs and faculty positions. Because these college level decisions are being made in strictly administrative circles and produce manifest effects on the baseline operation of academic programs, we see negative consequences for students, programs, and the very principle of academic shared governance.
Take for example the proposed cuts to Romance Languages faculty. CAS deans produced a comparison table of TTF/SCH and NTTF/SCH as part of their rationale for steep cuts to NTTF. If this metric was not a factor in planning for cuts, why would they even create it? Enrollment data shows that these cuts will leave several hundred students without language instruction opportunities next year at the UO. Nowhere else in CAS do we see cuts that threaten the operation of an academic program. Similarly, in AAA, the decision by deans to fold the AAD program into PPPM and eliminate most NTTF will, de facto, eliminate a program.
Faculty cuts being made under the pretext of immediate and proximate budget crises can be problematic because, in fact, many of these cuts are guided by assumptions about academic priorities and target specific programs, impacting the ability of those units to continue in their academic mission. Most importantly, academic priorities are being devised and pursued outside of the channels of shared academic governance. Within this context, faculty at the college level lack opportunities to question budget priorities and decisions where they press up against basic academic and curricular matters as commonly understood, a condition antithetical to shared academic governance. This principle is the bedrock of the academy.
Read the OpEd for more: UO layoffs a matter of metrics over academics