Our Opinion: Faculty cuts contradict core values

Back to Article
Back to Article

Our Opinion: Faculty cuts contradict core values

The Wood Word, Editorial Board

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Ten first-year faculty were notified last week that their contracts would not be renewed for the 2016-2017 academic year. They were notified by email from Sr. Anne Munley, IHM, Ph.D., Marywood’s president.

We believe this action by the administration contradicts Marywood’s core values.

Respect 

According to Marywood’s website, respect includes “honoring the uniqueness and dignity of each human person” and “demonstrating ethical and just interactions.” Informing the first-year faculty of their firing via email is not respectful. 

Some of the new faculty members uprooted their entire lives to teach at Marywood. Now they must start over and find somewhere else to inspire students.

Although it is understandable that the university administration make cuts during this time of financial stress, disrupting the lives of ten faculty members shows a lack of respect for their work and livelihoods.

The work of faculty members who were let go has essentially become a matter of mere numbers.

Empowerment

The faculty cuts are far from empowering. The core value of empowerment is defined as “access to education that enables all to achieve their full potential to live as conscientious citizens in a pluralistic society.

The letters to the fired faculty pointed to the Marywood policy that gives the university president the right to decide on non-reappointment of faculty.

The fact that this decision was left to one person fails to empower those who should be sharing in the university governance.

The process did not seek or incorporate input of the faculty at large or the departments affected. As a result, members of the Marywood community and others have publicly shared their opposition to the decision, with some calling for drastic measures.

The Faculty Senate “will be expending every effort to take action to reverse this decision,” said Senate President Dr. Craig Johnson.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has condemned the decision, saying that “we find your actions and the manner in which they were carried out entirely inconsistent with Catholic social teachings.”

The Marywood Chairs’ Council has called for an immediate change in leadership and a reversal of the non-renewal decision.

Students and faculty are working together on a black ribbon campaign in honor of the faculty who were let go.

Clearly, the administration’s original decision did not reflect the views of the diverse community. It ignored empowerment for a singular point of view.

Catholic identity

Another of Marywood’s core values is Catholic identity, or “the pursuit of truth, goodness, beauty, justice, and the common good within the context of the Catholic faith tradition.

Catholic social teaching focuses on “the dignity of the human person as created in the image of God, and the human rights and duties that protect and enhance this dignity.” One of the seven themes is “Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers.

As first-year faculty, these individuals were the most vulnerable to non-renewal decisions. In this case, the dignity of the human person became a matter of numbers instead.

Service

Marywood prides itself on its commitment to serving others and “promoting social responsibility which fosters community engagement to meet real needs.”

Eliminating these faculty is essentially a disservice to students, the campus community and the local community at large.

Yes, professors work here in order to make a living. But that work serves their students when they encourage curiosity and instill in others a love of knowledge.

If they are not teaching, they are not serving.

Excellence

Marywood has always held high academic standards and the “pursuit of the highest level of achievement.” The university motto of Sanctitas, Scientia, Sanitas—Holiness, Knowledge, Health—has served as a guide for the Marywood community.

The judgment to let the new faculty go does not speak to Marywood’s emphasis on excellence. It was a hasty decision made to meet a deadline with little analysis behind it.

For example, on March 2, Charles Gorden, director of the Theatre Program and one of those faculty members originally cut, received an email that he was getting his job back.

The email was sent by Sr. Anne, who apologized and also said that she had “received additional information regarding the responsibilities [Gorden] fulfill[s].” Where was this information when the original decision was made? What other information about the other faculty members might not have been considered?

Although the rehiring of Gorden is a step in the right direction, the firings and  one hastyrehiring  point  to problems with the entire process  that initiated the job cuts. 

We urge the administration to realize the full effects of the cuts, understand how they violate the core values and reconsider the decision not to renew the contracts of the nine first-year faculty.

We also ask students and faculty to make their voices heard. Students and faculty, like values, comprise the core of the university. We should all feel empowered to uphold the excellence of this university so that situations like this do not happen in the future.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email