Ohio University faculty protest proposed budget cuts

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ATHENS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio University leaders said the school has to change in order to survive financially.

But faculty members said budget cuts will mean fewer instructors, less research, and long-term damage to the University’s core mission.

Some faculty at the school held signs in protest Friday at a meeting of the university’s Board of Trustees.

Professor Joseph McLaughlin told WOUB that faculty members are experiencing a mixture of fear and anger over the administration’s plan to cut costs.

“All of the plans for the foreseeable future involve more firing of faculty and increasing the workload for existing faculty which is certainly going to impact the quality of education we’re able to give to students,” McLaughlin said.

President Duane Nellis said the university’s current commitments are not sustainable.

“We’re in a very solid financial situation right now, but we need to pivot into new ways relative to the evolving expectations of businesses, expectations relative to changes in quality of life,” Nellis said.

The administration said declining enrollments, pressure to minimize student debt, and other factors are contributing to the need for change.

Dave Scholl, president of the Board of Trustees, said the data is clear.

“You can’t turn a blind eye to that,” Scholl said. “I would argue that it’s not a crisis unless we don’t act and I think we’re in a financial position to be able to manage well.”

The administration said it is trying to develop an early retirement program that will be as favorable to the employees as possible. Some positions will go unfilled through attrition.

McLaughlin said he expects the climate on campus will get worse before it gets better.

“I think you’re going to continue to see a lot of unhappy faculty and students and protests on campus,” McLaughlin said. “We better belt ourselves in for a pretty contentious spring semester around here.”

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