Valley News, Vermont Law School Plans Faculty Cuts:
As part of an ongoing campaign to right itself financially, the Vermont Law School is working out the details of a cost-saving “faculty restructuring” that will result in a reduction of the workforce.
“Our target is maximum programmatic efficiency and value,” President Thomas McHenry said during a phone interview on Tuesday. “Our major priorities are preserving our strong (juris doctorate) program, maintaining our strong environmental program, and keeping the immensely strong sense of community we have here.”
McHenry said that, in a process that began last October, all faculty positions are being reviewed for efficiency gains to help the law school recover from the effects of a national downturn in enrollment that hit its nadir a few years ago.
McHenry declined to discuss details of the restructuring process, which is expected to be completed in late June, but gave examples of expected outcomes that include shifting some professors to professor emeritus status, reducing the teaching and programmatic load for others, and asking others to take on more responsibilities.
Several members of the faculty, including some senior professors with tenure, declined comment. ...
While no staff members have been cut at this point, McHenry has identified some faculty who say they’re willing to restructure their jobs. Others won’t have a choice.
“We’re looking at the whole range of options, both voluntary and not,” he said.Though he described himself as optimistic about the school’s long term prospects, McHenry said the changes are needed to keep the law school viable.
“All institutions have to be worried about solvency. We have a small endowment and very limited state and federal funding,” he said. “The restructuring we’re going through is designed to address those concerns.”
Last year, the school employed 135 faculty and staff (not including summer, adjunct and online faculty) and taught more than 630 students (including about 140 online students). ...
In 2013, the school underwent a series of layoffs, and trimmed its operating budget — now roughly $23 million — by about $4 million. McHenry said there is no specific target for the current round of cost-savings, other than “as much efficiency as possible” while maintaining the school’s standards.
The news of the cost-cutting staff changes comes in the wake of a rocky semester during which some members of the student body rallied to defend the school’s good name, while others questioned its finances amid what some called a “culture of scarcity.”