Bobcats Stand Together to Save Our Profs

President Nellis and the Ohio University Board of Trustees

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**Update, 4/30/2020: OU-AAUP is learning that non-tenure track instructional faculty and even probationary tenure-track faculty are beginning to receive non-renewal notices. The "pause" on personnel decisions to prevent additional suffering during the pandemic is being quietly un-paused. The administration has made no official announcements. It has kept the faculty entirely in the dark about its plans to slash faculty ranks as part of its response to OU's financial crisis. Entire academic programs, including African-American Studies and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies are facing elimination. Faculty have been excluded almost entirely from the decision-making process.

The faculty facing the loss of their jobs are important front-line instructors in every college at the university, teach seminars and lectures, run labs and clinicals, head up internship programs and productions, and serve as academic advisors for innumerable students. In the fall of 2019 alone, 315 Instructional Faculty taught 985 lectures and seminars with an additive enrollment of more than 30,000 students. Now, their jobs are at risk at a time when access to health insurance is more important than ever. Ohio University has long been an engine of social mobility in Southeast Ohio. The loss of these jobs will diminish the university’s capacity to fulfill that role, and more immediately, it will harm the economic health of the region.

Responsible fiscal governance at a public university demands that cuts to balance the budget must first come from non-academic units. In this time of crisis, Ohio University should put the health of the university and its employees first, and halt the layoffs.

If you are representing an organization and would like to sign the petition, please contact us at ou.aaup@gmail.com.

**Update, 3/25/2020: OU-AAUP applauds President Nellis, Provost Sayrs, and Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Shaffer for their decision to press “pause” on “personnel-related budget reductions” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate the security that this statement provides to Ohio University employees, especially the 315 Instructional Faculty members whose jobs have been on the chopping block this year. However, the financial challenges facing the university remain. As President Nellis wrote in his statement, “Now, more than ever, our attention must be on providing a quality educational experience for our students.” This includes supporting the hardworking, valuable Instructional Faculty members who are the front-line teaching professors at Ohio University and defending the core academic mission of the entire OHIO community.**

As Ohio University shuts down its operations and moves classes online to safeguard the health of students, faculty, and staff, it must take steps to ensure the long-term wellbeing of the university and its employees. Currently, the teaching faculty at Ohio University are facing mass layoffs—and in the middle of a severe public health crisis produced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These faculty, who are important front-line instructors in every college at the university, teach seminars and lectures, run labs and clinicals, head up internship programs and productions, and serve as academic advisors for innumerable students. In the fall of 2019 alone, 315 Instructional Faculty taught 985 lectures and seminars with an additive enrollment of more than 30,000 students. Now, their jobs are at risk at a time when access to health insurance is more important than ever. Ohio University has long been an engine of social mobility in Southeast Ohio. The loss of these jobs will diminish the university’s capacity to fulfill that role, and more immediately, it will harm the economic health of the region.

Responsible fiscal governance at a public university demands that cuts to balance the budget must first come from non-academic units. In this time of crisis, Ohio University should put the health of the university and its employees first, and halt the layoffs.

If you are representing an organization and would like to sign the petition, please contact us at ou.aaup@gmail.com.


Petition by
OU AAUP
Athens, Ohio

To: President Nellis and the Ohio University Board of Trustees
From: [Your Name]

Dear President Nellis and the Ohio University Board of Trustees,

We, the undersigned, are writing to ask that you halt the planned non-renewal of instructional faculty members immediately.

In this time of uncertainty and disruption due to the rapid progress of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio University has shown great leadership in shutting down university operations and moving classes online to keep students, faculty, and staff as safe as possible. However, it is likewise important to keep in mind the long-term health of the university, its employees, and the Southeast Ohio region.

Instructional Faculty, previously known as “Group II” faculty, are important front-line instructors in every college at the university. They teach seminars and lectures, run labs and clinicals, head up internship programs and productions, and serve as academic advisors for countless students. According to data collected by the OU-AAUP, in Fall 2019 alone, Ohio University’s 315 instructional faculty members taught 985 classes with a combined additive enrollment of over 30,000 students. As these numbers make clear, instructional faculty members contribute centrally to the core academic mission of the university. In times of crisis—financial, health, or otherwise—it is especially important to not make cuts to the core function of an institution. As Ohio University faces a double crisis of fiscal and of public health, we propose that the university make any necessary cuts to units ancillary to the university’s core teaching and research mission. Indeed, over the last several years, positions and salaries at the executive administrative level have ballooned, stretching the university’s fiscal reserves past what can and should be maintained under responsible governance. We ask that should cuts be necessary, that Ohio University right-size its executive administration and make cuts in non-academic units instead of laying off high-value and low-cost instructional faculty who are at the front line of Ohio University’s mission.

Moreover, Ohio University has long served as an engine of economic prosperity and social mobility in Southeast Ohio and in Athens County specifically. Laying off several hundred faculty members who call this region their home, who raise families and buy products and services in this area, could further injure Athens and the surrounding region. The loss of these jobs means a negative impact on Southeast Ohio’s economy. It would mean that many fewer people buying groceries, that many fewer people supporting local stores and products, and that many people fewer paying taxes for local schools.

Finally and crucially, to lay off hardworking, valuable instructional faculty during the COVID-19 pandemic, when access to health insurance is more important than ever before, would be inhumane. In this time of crisis, Ohio University should put the wellbeing of its employees above the maintenance of high executive administrative salaries.

In his address to the OHIO community at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, President Nellis said, “One thing that we are very sure of is that Bobcats care. And Bobcats take care of each other, our loved ones, our communities, and the world.”

How can you take care of the Bobcat community? We ask that you halt these layoffs, or “non-renewals.” President Nellis and members of the Board of Trustees, you have the power to save these jobs, support these employees, and protect the OHIO community. It is imperative that you do so now.

Sincerely,
OU-AAUP