Faculty Layoffs at The College of Saint Rose

The College of Saint Rose (NY) faces a $9.3 million deficit and declining enrollment. “It’s a challenging time in higher education and it’s not for the faint of heart,” President Carolyn Stefanco recently remarked. “Change is really hard for people, and higher education is changing in pretty dramatic ways.”

As reported by the Chronicle, the president announced on Friday the changes that she and the board of trustees are bringing to Saint Rose this year: the elimination of more than two dozen academic programs and the termination of 23 faculty–including several with tenure–effective December 29, 2016.

“In identifying programs for consolidation, elimination, or reduction and identifying reduction of faculty,” says President Stefanco’s announcement letter, “the College took into account enrollment levels and trends, as well as other relevant considerations, including curricular needs arising from the College’s degree requirements, accreditation standards, and teacher and other professional licensure requirements.” Tellingly, especially from a shared governance perspective, faculty input is not listed as one of the “relevant considerations.” Indeed, the very next line of the president’s letter lists the decision makers: “The Deans, the President’s Cabinet, and the Board of Trustees have worked diligently to develop a balanced and thoughtful plan to meet the changing needs of our current and prospective students while minimizing the impact on our faculty.”

Saint Rose faculty are not taking the news lying down. “President Carolyn Stefanco,” according to a statement from the Faculty Association, “has never brought proposals for program cuts to any faculty committee for a vote which was required under the principles of shared governance. The College’s Board-approved Governance Document makes it clear that faculty are responsible for curricular and academic matters, including any program reductions or terminations. This top-down, unilateral process demonstrates clearly that Saint Rose faculty no longer have a voice in the governance of the college.” The local AAUP chapter has organized a number of creative upcoming events to protest the cuts. And, in response to a Northeast Public Radio interview with President Stefanco, Dr. Angela Ledford, vice president of the chapter, delivered a sharp critique of the president and board that is well worth listening to. It concludes: “The faculty, many of whom have served for decades, embody the St. Rose difference. The current rushed and non-consultative process being pursued by the administration at St. Rose, centrally motivated by market data, narrow and short-term industry interests, and profit-seeking rather than a rigorous, broad-based liberal arts and sciences education will prove to be disastrous for the institution and its students.”

Saint Rose students and alumni agree and–as we have seen at other institutions recently attacked by their own governing boards and presidents–have joined with faculty in active opposition. Alumni have been particularly vocal, initiating an online petition and establishing both a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

It is worth mentioning one final aspect of the unilateral decisions they are protesting. President Stefanco’s letter points out that the faculty victims of her “academic prioritization” process will receive help. In true corporate fashion, it will consist of “career transition assistance provided by a firm specializing in higher education outplacement.”

3 thoughts on “Faculty Layoffs at The College of Saint Rose

  1. Thank you, Mr. DeCesare for sharing our story. Faculty at The College of Saint Rose are still reeling from Friday’s news that 23 full-time faculty members, 13 of them tenured and one with a tenure application currently pending. Ten of these colleagues have served with distinction for more than a decade, and one since 1999. This is an outrage that has ignited strong opposition as you note. As the Saint Rose AAUP Chapter President, currently working with Greg Scholtz at national, and David Linton for NYS AAUP, I can promise you we will do all we can to get these cuts rescinded, restore what was only 3 years ago a great system of shared governance, and protect tenure and academic freedom on our campus.

    The new President (arriving only in 2014) points to a significant deficit of $9.3 million as the rationale for these egregious cuts–but the books have never been opened and exigency was never declared, and administrative promotions and hiring have been propagating at an alarming rate, as have consultant contracts. If you are interested in more details, please contact me. We need all the help we can get. In solidarity…

  2. Pingback: Events This Week | The College of Saint Rose Chapter AAUP

  3. I served for over twenty years as the Academic Administrator for Art Education K – 12 for the Shenendehowa Central School District in Clifton Park, NY. Shen is a large public school district servicing almost 10,000 students. I would guess that throughout my tenure, I interviewed well over 300 candidates for positions as art educators. Inevitably, CSR candidates surpassed all of their competition and many of the current Sne staff are alum of CSR. I can not stress enough what a traumatic void will be created by the elimination of the CSR Art Education Program.
    Fran Battistoni
    Retired Shenendehowa Academic Administrator for Art Education K-12

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