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Published December 05, 2013, 01:12 PM

'Sad day to be a Dragon,' as MSUM proposes cutting 6 tenured faculty, 5 majors

MOORHEAD — Under a plan outlined by administrators Thursday morning, Minnesota State University Moorhead plans to eliminate majors, merge several departments and lay off six faculty members to solve its $4.9 million budget deficit.

By: Cali Owings, INFORUM

MOORHEAD — Under a plan outlined by administrators Thursday morning, Minnesota State University Moorhead plans to eliminate majors, merge several departments and lay off six faculty members to solve its $4.9 million budget deficit.

The cuts unveiled made it a “sad day to be a Dragon,” said Ted Gracyk, chairman of the Faculty Association which serves as the bargaining unit for permanent faculty at MSUM.

Administrators detailed the cuts in a meeting with the Faculty Association. The plan is projected to save $2 million in the 2015 fiscal year and $919,000 in fiscal year 2016.

The plan calls for a reduction of 16 temporary faculty positions and six layoffs of tenured or tenure-track faculty in the community health, elementary and early childhood education, English, history, theater arts and special education graduate programs.

Five majors with relatively few students would get the ax under the proposed plan including American multicultural studies, medical laboratory technician, master of fine arts in creative writing, music composition and community health.

Though a tenured or tenure-track faculty member’s current program may be closed, they are not immediately laid off, Gracyk said. Those faculty members may be reassigned and retrained, he said.

Each of the program areas targeted for layoffs do not have any temporary faculty whose positions could be eliminated, Provost Anne Blackhurst said.

If the administration decides to move forward, the layoffs would be effective in May 2015.

Earlier this fall, MSUM had made early retirement offers to about 100 faculty and staff members. Only 21 of them agreed to buyouts. School officials were seeking 35 retirements.

If more faculty members respond to a second round of early retirement incentives, Blackhurst said layoff notices could be rescinded.

The administration proposed merging departments to increase curricular efficiency and reduce the number of department chairs which are allotted a fixed number of hours for administrative duties.

Proposed mergers include unifying history, languages and cultures, women and gender studies and the American multicultural studies departments and join the paralegal, political science and economics departments with the potential for a pre-law program.

They also plan to combine mass communications with communications studies and merge cinema arts and digital technologies with theater arts.

Potential savings from these mergers are equivalent to one full-time faculty member, Blackhurst said.

If the plan moves forward, changes to the departments would be effective March 1.

The Faculty Association will deliver a response during a Dec. 20 meeting with the administration.

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