Paul L. Caron
Dean



Thursday, July 16, 2020

Budget 'Bloodbath' As University Of Akron Lays Off 23% Of Full-Time (Including Tenured) Faculty Due To COVID-19

Chronicle of Higher Education, With Latest Layoffs, U. of Akron Has Lost Almost a Quarter of Its Faculty Since Pandemic Began:

AkronThe University of Akron plans to cut 10 percent of its total staff, including nearly 100 full-time faculty members — the latest sign that the Covid-19 pandemic is set to take a severe toll on the higher-education work force.

The university’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Wednesday to eliminate 178 positions, including 96 unionized faculty members and 82 staff and contract professionals through layoffs. Taking into account previous layoffs and voluntary retirements, the university has eliminated about 23 percent of its unionized full-time faculty since the pandemic began. The university says the reductions in personnel have saved it $16.4 million — 5 percent of its budget for the 2020 fiscal year. ...

Akron is the latest university to lay off faculty members after Covid-19 disrupted the spring semester and decimated university budgets across the country.

Inside Higher Ed, Budget ‘Bloodbath’ at University of Akron:

Cuts were made by department chairs and deans — many of them interim and acting, due to the recent reorganization — at the university's request that they trim their programs by up to 25 percent. The union says names were selected regardless of rank or tenure status. ...

Regarding COVID-19 in particular, many institutions are considering faculty cuts. But Akron is a particular flash point because it is cutting so deep, and because of intense and very public faculty opposition to its plan. That opposition includes the faculty union’s contention that the administration is privileging athletics over academics, to the detriment of students.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2020/07/budget-bloodbath-as-university-of-akron-lays-off-23-of-full-time-including-tenured-faculty-due-to-co.html

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Comments

As dean of The University of Akron School of Law, I am heartbroken by the loss of these valued faculty and staff colleagues at our University.

However, it’s important to emphasize that the School of Law’s share of these budget cuts and reductions in force is quite small and is comparatively modest in the context of the University as a whole. While the University is targeting an overall structural reduction of about 20% in its operating budget for AY21, the School of Law’s cut will comprise a much smaller percentage of our budget. Our contributions to the University’s budget reductions have been carefully targeted to avoid negative impacts on students.

The School of Law’s share of the University’s reductions is relatively small for a number of reasons. First, we already were operating very efficiently, running a consistent annual operating surplus while providing an outstanding education and strong outcomes for our students. We’ve been able to do this while continuing to charge less than $25,000 per year in tuition and fees for both Ohio residents and nonresident students. All of this is thanks to the dedication and hard work of our faculty and staff.

Second, we are experiencing strong enrollment growth – we expect to bring in a 1L class this fall that is about 40% larger than our 2019 entering class with equally strong credentials and improved diversity.

I personally have confidence on our University’s leadership, including the decisions to restructure the University (which will not directly affect the School of Law) and to institute significant structural budget reductions to ensure the University’s strength going forward. Of course, that doesn’t make the sudden departure of large numbers of colleagues any less painful. But even in an environment of necessary cuts, strategic investment in areas of strength and growth will be crucial. At Akron, the School of Law is one of those areas.

Christopher J. (C.J.) Peters
Dean and C. Blake McDowell, Jr. Professor of Law
The University of Akron School of Law

Posted by: C.J. Peters | Jul 16, 2020 1:15:53 PM

This is the same place that got rid of their previous president b/c he started to implement austerity measures. The faculty voted "no confidence." Well, how'd that work out for you?

The one before him wrangled $60M debt, trying to keep up w/ the Ohio and Penn States.

If the Ohio Board of Regents were really smart, they'd merge UAkron and Kent St, save a ton of money. Same with UToledo and BGSU.

Posted by: DrTorch | Jul 17, 2020 5:17:39 AM

I see references to "staff" laid off too but it looks like administrators are safe. Whew!

Posted by: binkless | Jul 17, 2020 6:23:53 AM

As a double-Zip (BSEE, MBA), this is long overdue. Akron has been living way beyond its means for some time.

Posted by: Steven Walker | Jul 17, 2020 7:24:19 AM

How many administrators? How many diversity departments? How many NON-academic (ie, coaching) staff?

Posted by: doc | Jul 17, 2020 7:25:20 AM

The main takeaway from IHE's article is that U Akron lost over $200 million in athletics over the last decade but the cuts are primarily coming from faculty and staff. Sigh.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jul 17, 2020 11:46:41 AM

@CJ Peters,

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Department of Education's tax record-sourced data says that the median earnings for your law school graduates is but $42,200. https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/school/fields/?200800-University-of-Akron-Main-Campus. I would not call that a "strong outcome." That link also shows the median monthly student loan payment for your grads accounting for about 25% of their pre-tax median earnings.

Nor would I call the slightly better than 66% full-time, long-term, license-required job percentage strong either, given that 2019 was the best year the entry-level legal hiring market is likely to see for a long time. 82 of 120 grads per your ABA Form 509 disclosures.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jul 17, 2020 11:53:17 AM