BY JOHN HINSHAW
To paraphrase Tolstoy, all happy colleges are alike; all unhappy universities are unhappy in their own way. This is the story of an unhappy place: Marywood University. There, the faculty, with help from their colleagues throughout the state and region, are fighting against despair to make the institution true to AAUP principles and the college’s own Catholic mission.
Like many tuition-dependent private schools, Marywood faces real challenges. Marywood’s problems have been compounded by administrative decisions. The university is located in an aging region, where the baby bust and the crisis facing the middle class limits student enrollment. Despite those realities, the administration built a number of buildings, including a new learning center that went 20 million dollars over budget. Faculty concerns were sidelined, which is why the faculty voted no confidence in their president, and another top administrator, in the fall of 2015.
Earlier this week, the outgoing President decided to terminate ten first-year faculty. Faculty and the AAUP chapter argued that the faculty handbook, and governance processes, relating to retrenchment were ignored. New buildings and renovations continue. The process was arguably not well-thought through, as one faculty member was reinstated as it was clear that his termination would result in some students not being able to graduate. See: http://www.thewoodword.org/news/2016/03/02/director-of-theatre-program-rehired-via-email/
Faculty leaders suggest that many professors feel ignored and belittled, and are scared. Nonetheless, the chapter is leading a fight. They are aided by chapters in the region, and the Northeast Pennsylvania AAUP Alliance, which along with the state organization, immediately fired off letters to the board and president. The student newspaper has been unusually good. http://www.thewoodword.org/news/2016/03/02/aaup-units-criticize-faculty-cuts/
Marywood faculty is also helped by the NEPA/PA AAUP conference held at Misericordia University on Feburary 27th. The day-long event was well-attended, and functioned as a mini-Summer Institute for around 75 faculty and administrators. Central to the discussions was an analysis of how Catholic Social Teaching instructs Catholic institutions to treat its employees with fairness and dignity. In other words, CST instructs Catholic institutions to behave in ways that are consistent with AAUP principles.
Please send your messages of support to:
Dr. Brooke Cannon, Marywood chapter president: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Craig Johnson, Head of Marywood’s Faculty Senate: email@example.com