Wright State University | Graphic by Dylan Collison | The Wright State Guardian
Nicholas BenVenuto contributed to this article.
Update on Feb. 19, 2021
The Wright State University (WSU) Board of Trustees unanimously voted in favor of eliminating up to 113 excess faculty member positions as a result of retrenchment procedures mutually agreed upon in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) during their virtual meeting on Feb. 19.
“I recommend the Wright State Board of Trustees affirm the elimination of up to 113 excess faculty positions, and approve the formal retrenchment of up to 113 full-time faculty positions. That number is on the lower side of the Provost recommendations, but I believe it to be reasonable and appropriate with respect to correcting our disproportionate faculty size compared against current and expected enrollment,” said WSU President Sue Edwards.
“I am recommending an “up to” retrenchment number because there are multiple alternatives available that can achieve the elimination of excess positions and then reducing the actual number of positions formally retrenched,” Edwards said.
“The board will see further recommendations addressing some of these other options. The joint committee has requested the university to officially pause or suspend the retrenchment process in order to implement some of these types of measures, however, it must be acknowledged similar measures have been tried previously with very limited success,” Said Edwards.
While workforce reductions at WSU will occur over an 18-month period, the CBA additionally allows for WSU to reduce the number of faculty ultimately retrenched, and to even call back retrenched faculty members if circumstances prove to show increased enrollment over this 18-month period.
“This is potentially a great tool, given the retrenchment notice period is long. In some cases, up to 18 months,” Edwards said. “That affords the opportunity to scale the number of retrenched positions accordingly.”
Moving forward, Edwards announced to the board that she will immediately engage with the university’s newly announced Interim Provost, Dr. Oliver Evans to work with college Deans to finalize a list of specific faculty positions to be retrenched.
Evans starts his position as Interim Provost with the university on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
“I am confident the Interim Provost and the Interim Provost working with the Deans and Chairs have the knowledge and experience they need to develop specific plans which will ensure Wright State’s ability to deliver an affordable, high quality public education to the Dayton region,” Edwards said.
WSU President Sue Edwards is expected to recommend for approval the formal retrenchment of 113 faculty positions at the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting Friday.
After presenting her recommendations, the Board of Trustees will then make the final decision.
Edwards makes this recommendation off of Provost Leaman’s report and the Joint Committee on Retrenchment report. The belief that declining enrollment is expected to persist plays a significant factor in the decision.
“It is difficult to imagine that our enrollment will suddenly break a five year pattern of decline given the current circumstances,” Edwards said in a letter to the Board of Trustees. “Unfortunately, other University initiatives over the past several years, such as the two previous voluntary retirement initiatives, have not sufficiently brought our overall FTE faculty positions numbers into a proportion with declining enrollment.”
Some recommendations, such as priorities in hiring and the use of adjunct faculty, do not require approval from the Board of Trustees and will be considered at the administrative level.
However, other recommendations must be approved by the Board of Trustees.
Edwards plans to make the following recommendations:
- The formal retrenchment of up to 113 FTE faculty.
- An incentive program be offered to those who voluntarily separate from the University.
- The spending of up to $1 million in the current academic year for enrollment and retention efforts.
“With the Board’s approval of this recommendation, I will immediately engage the new interim Provost to work with our Deans to finalize a list of 113 specific faculty positions identified to be eliminated/retrenched,” Edwards said.
Leaman officially leaves the University on Feb. 21, on which Oliver Evans will then become the active interim vice provost, announced by the university Wednesday morning.
Edwards addressed the importance of the community’s mutually positive and collaborative efforts in the days to come.
“Given what this University has endured in the past, I am not naive to believe that everyone will share the same perspectives on our issues and solutions,” Edwards said. “But I do believe in the power of positivity.”