By Elizabeth Coss
Youngstown State University decided against extending the contracts of seven unidentified faculty members following decreased enrollment.
The faculty who were notified they would not be reappointed to their positions for the next academic school year were lecturers under one-year contracts for the 2021-2022 academic year at the university.
Brien Smith, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said there was correlation between the recent non-renewals and the sunsetting of 23 academic programs that were announced fall 2021.
“To maintain [the] quality of programs across YSU, resources must occasionally be redirected from programs slated to be sunset to programs with increasing student interest and demand,” Smith said.
Other factors that contribute to faculty cuts include dropping enrollment numbers that have affected not only YSU, but other universities, according to Smith.
“With changing enrollments, universities do consider the optimal number of faculty necessary to deliver degrees,” Smith said. “Most programs that were cut have carried low enrollments for years. Falling enrollment can impact all programs, and majors with small numbers can be severely impacted with even reductions of one to two students in that area.”
Three of the seven faculty cuts were from the Beeghly College of Liberal Arts, Social Sciences and Education. Dean Charles Howell said the college will make sure all of its classes are covered.
“The numbers [in classes] have shrunk over the past five years as enrollment has been declining, as the entering freshman class has been getting smaller. We really don’t need as many instructors there. We have both full-time and part-time instructors who will be able to pick up that load,” Howell said.
Despite being able to manage the cuts, Howell said it’s never easy.
“As dean, I’m placed in a difficult position,” Howell said. “It’s painful as dean to have to cut programs and to have to cut faculty because the faculty have served us well. All of these three faculty are good teachers, and they work diligently on behalf of the students.”
Faculty positions that were cut in BCLASSE were two composition lecturers and one Italian lecturer.
Faculty who were given non-renewals were notified the week of Feb. 20, and had to be notified by March 1, according to Ron Cole, director of University Communications.
Despite these cuts, Cole said YSU has plans for expanding its workforce and funding faculty.
“YSU’s fiscal year 2022 and 2023 budgets include 40 new full-time faculty hirings. In addition, the budgets include 2% annual faculty raises, and there is continued support in the budget for faculty travel and research, sabbaticals, faculty-improvement leaves and other scholarly endeavors,” Cole said.