CMU faculty members at risk of layoffs - WNEM TV 5

CMU faculty members at risk of layoffs

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MT. PLEASANT, MI (WNEM) -

Dozens of Central Michigan University faculty members are at risk of layoffs.

Administration officials are trying to find a way to cut $20 million from the university's budget. The deficit comes as student enrollment is down nearly 8 percent over a five year period.

The Union of Teaching Faculty said close to 24 people are facing layoffs. That does not include faculty members on contracts that may not get renewed or those who may be laid off due to classes being cut.

The school held a town hall on campus Wednesday night.

"We're trying to finish the semester and get our work done, but at the same time we are wondering if we're going to have a job in a couple of weeks," said Dr. Tracy Collins, CMU professor.

The university president said the deficit will mean layoffs to about two dozen staff member and not filling positions that are open.

"We don't know what they mean by staff. They haven't defined it," said Sue Murphy, CMU faculty.

The four big unions who represent a lion's share of the university's 2,700 employees got together on Wednesday to discuss the university's budget woes.

Dr. Davis Jesuit, professor at CMU and past president of the Central Michigan Faculty Association, said cutting staff and trimming educational programs could mean trouble.

"I feel these cuts threaten our identity as a university that values the interaction between a professor and a student," Jesuit said.

He said class sizes could increase and some programs could be in jeopardy. He said the deficit doesn't add up because the university's tuition rates have nearly doubled in the last decade.

Jesuit thinks the university is looking in the wrong places to cut and have made bad investments that ultimately got them into this hole.

"The revenues have been increasing coming into the academic side, but they've chosen to invest in areas that lose money," Jesuit said.

He said those areas include athletics and its medical school.

Some students said they are paying close attention to the issue because they are afraid cuts could take away from the education they came to receive.

"At the end of the day we're here to get an education. We're here to get a degree. So I think that's where the money needs to be out first," said Markie Heideman, CMU student.

The university plans to have an informative session of their own on Friday to discuss the budget deficit and potential plans of action.

"Laying off employees at CMU is a bad idea," said Ron Bieber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO. "Professors, instructors, faculty members, custodians, skilled trades, grounds and warehouse workers, electricians, HVAC and powerhouse workers are the ones who make CMU happen. Laying off workers and outsourcing these vital jobs would be bad for students, bad for faculty, and bad for the entire campus. It's time for CMU to get serious about controlling spending and come up with real solutions to cut the deficit without cutting jobs that benefit the whole community."

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