VSU Faculty Members Laid Off Wednesday Say 'Low Enrollment' Explanation Doesn't Add Up

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Winnie Wright
August 7, 2015

Valdosta, GA - The numbers just don't add up.

That's what professors at Valdosta State University are saying after they were told their contracts wouldn't be renewed next year.

On Wednesday, 33 faculty and staff members at Valdosta State University were told their positions were being cut for the 2016-2017 school year.

"We moved up here, set roots in, and planned to stay here for the rest of my career. I've hit all the benchmarks, I've performed very well in the department, but it didn't matter. Our positions were cut regardless of how well we performed," says Assistant Professor, Joshua Reece. He goes on to say that only the newest professors were affected by the cuts.

Valdosta State says it needed to cut recurring costs, like salaried positions, to balance the University's budget.

"By using the funds from vacant positions, that helps us meet that budget shortfall. Because those are permanent monies that have to be reduced," explains Dr. Brian Gerber, Interim Provost at VSU.

It's worth mentioning, 18 positions were never filled after the last school year, meaning the total number of positions eliminated by VSU is actually 51.

While the University sites low student enrollment for the cuts, the numbers don't add up with information provided on the VSU website.

According to Valdosta.edu, the current enrollment for 2015 is actually up 2.4 percent.

"If we were in financial exigency, we wouldn't have budget surpluses every year for more than a decade to the tune of several millions of dollars," continues Reece.

He and the other professors say the cuts by department aren't proportionate to enrollment numbers. 26 people were cut from the College of Arts and Sciences, where enrollment was down only 3.6%.
The College of Nursing was down 4.5%. Dr. Cy Mott, a Professor with a grant from the National Science Foundation, is one of the 33 who lost their job.

"I bring in almost as much money for the University as they have to pay me. So with me, it's almost a zero-sum game."

Ultimately, these faculty members say they love their jobs and would like to stay at VSU.

According to VSU, the formula for allocating state funds is based largely on enrollment and corresponding credit hour production. However, VSU'S website shows there was no change in credit hours between 2014 and 2015.


Winnie Wright
August 5, 2015

Valdosta, GA - Valdosta State University Administrators laid off 33 faculty and staff Wednesday, blaming the move on budget concerns.

"I love my job, so I'm really really devastated," says Teresa Paliwoda, who has been teaching at VSU since 2008.

Each year, she is been given great reviews and last year she was even promoted from a Instructor to an Lecturer.

Paliwoda was told by the Head of the English Department that she wouldn't have a job next school year. She blames the promotion.

"Now I only have one year of experience, and because of that one year, my position was cut. So I said 'but I've been here for eight years' and he said 'yes, but they don't look at it that way."

Paliwoda says she was blindsided.

According to VSU, 33 jobs, both faculty and staff, were cut in order to balance the budget.

"By using the funds from vacant positions, that helps us meet that budget shortfall because those are permanent monies that have to be reduced," explains Dr. Brian Gerber, Interim Provost at VSU.

Paliwoda adds she doesn't understand why if the University is trying to recruit more students, to boost enrollment, they would cut teaching positions.

"I said 'well who's going to the teach the students' and the Department Head said, 'they don't know the answer to that, they're just doing what they have to do right now'," Paliwoda continues.

At the same time, VSU will be spending $2 million on a new marketing campaign geared towards recruiting students.

Dr. Gerber says the University is cutting positions because those are recurring costs. However, VSU conducted a similar campaign in 2014, which could also be considered recurring. It too cost the University millions of dollars.

"I don't understand how, on one hand, they're firing good workers, and on the other hand, they're paying out $2 million for a media campaign."

Paliwoda says her husband is a disabled veteran, so she is the sole-income provider in her family, leaving her no choice, but to find another job.



 
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