Administration decide faculty, staff cuts

With administrative members making decisions on Hastings College’s operating costs for this current school year, this included multiple faculty and staff lay-offs. 

Due to increased spending and decreased income, overall budget cuts to academic divisions came in the form of decreased departmental operating budgets, position terminations and layoffs of staff and non-tenured faculty based off of data collected by the administration. The decisions were made as early as February, but were accelerated during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted for large amounts of refunds to be distributed back to students.

Administrave staff took voluntary pay-cuts and all other staff had a 20% pay cut during the months of April, June and July.

“Any cuts that were made or would be made to programs, such as a major or a minor are based on data driven decisions and so ultimately that would just be the number of students participating in particular programs and how many students are served by those faculty. Any decisions that were made are based on that data,” said Chief Financial Officer Stephanie Ourada. 

The Collegian reached out to Dr. Barbara Sunderman, vice president for academic affairs, for information on the data collected and how administration made these decisions based on the data but received no response by the time of publication. 

According to Gary Freeman, executive director of the HC Foundation, cuts to programs affected by decreased operational budgets and/or faculty and staff lay offs were because of “low student demand” but made in the best interest of students. These decisions were also said to be inclusive of the demand of non-major students taking courses in these programs.

From the estimated 10 faculty and staff that were laid off  — an approximate number was not given to the Collegian upon request — five faculty members in the Arts and Humanities Division received contract renewals due to a $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Remaining faculty and staff either found positions at other places of employment or whose contracts were simply not renewed. 

“Those were six-month appointments…those individuals are a part of that grant. And then not all of them. That grant included engaging some of the faculty to better engage in hybrid learning and training. It involved them doing summer work….I don’t remember exactly, but I believe there were two positions from that grant that were just six months, that will not be continued after the first of the year. But I believe the rest of them will all continue. They are one-year contracts to make a point,” Freeman said. 

Workloads from laid off faculty and staff have been placed on remaining employees with no additional pay due to a salary freeze, according to Freeman as “additional work in lieu of pay.”

According to Ourada, a hiring freeze was put into effect along with these budget cuts. All vacant positions at HC currently needing to be filled by rehiring are made at the discretion of the president — in the recent past made by the presidential transition committee.