A Message from the President
September 28, 2011 - A Message to the Campus Community
I want the campus community to be aware that we recently received notification the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) has elected to conduct an "investigation" of the termination of three tenured faculty stemming from discontinuance of the French and French Education programs at Southeastern.
As I am certain many of you already know, AAUP is an organization that advocates for faculty rights. Although its work over the years has helped frame many of the rules and processes associated with faculty employment, the organization has no official or legal standing in this particular matter. Our institution is governed by the Rules and Policies of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.
As is certainly their right, the faculty who were notified of termination under our System’s Program Discontinuance policy disagreed with the decision and have initiated legal action. Because the matter involves personnel actions and is presently in litigation, legal considerations will constrain members of the university administration and others involved in our campus academic program review process from participating with the AAUP in this investigation. Members of the campus community should also be aware that the AAUP lacks authority or power to compel anyone to take part in their proceedings, although those not constrained by legal considerations who wish to participate are free to do so.
As the campus community is well aware from many of my prior campus communications, the unprecedented reductions in our State funding over the last three years resulted in many difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions. As I have maintained from the beginning of the budget crisis, in order to continue our ability to offer outstanding opportunities to our students in the current difficult financial environment, we must prioritize the utilization of our limited resources.
Detailed information about the processes and data used in arriving at programmatic decisions has been shared with the campus through multiple campus messages, all of which are still posted on the President’s web page. Among the most difficult of the decisions we have made has been the elimination of 208 faculty and staff positions, 89 of which were occupied at the time of their elimination.
Although not an easy task, the prioritization process to date and the resulting decisions have allowed us to sustain largely normal operation of our remaining programs. Furloughs for faculty and staff over the period of budget reductions have been minimal, and in our academic departments, uncompensated overloads and significant increases in base workload have been avoided. With the financial assistance of our Foundation and Alumni, we have even sustained travel grants and other professional development opportunities for faculty.
My position has been and continues to be that we must remain focused on the success of our students, and we must make whatever difficult decisions are required in order to allow us to sustain the healthy operation of our most vital and vibrant programs.