Retrenchment Ongoing as Faculty Appeal

Written by Matthew Goldsmith, News Editor

Photo by Derek Walsh

  While 43 faculty positions have been eliminated at the University of Central Missouri as a result of last year’s retrenchment process, 20 were vacant because of prior retirements and resignations and many of the 23 impacted faculty members are still teaching, including tenured faculty in the middle of the appeals process.

  UCM President Roger Best announced on March 29 that 41 positions would be eliminated. However, he said the number increased to 43 after the automotive technology management program’s appeal was denied, resulting in the program being put into abeyance.

  Best said eight of the 23 positions were occupied by tenured faculty, and all of the tenure-track faculty members identified by retrenchment are still teaching this year.

  “Of the 23 who were notified, only a small number of them actually were not reemployed for this current academic year,” Best said.

  Phillip Bridgmon, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said the appeal process for tenured faculty members is a two-step process. This summer, faculty members could petition the reconsideration committee, who then sent their recommendations to Best.

  The faculty members then could appeal the president’s decision to UCM’s Board of Governors. Bridgmon said the appeals process is currently with the Board of Governors. 

  Citing increased enrollment from last fall, he said he doesn’t expect a similar retrenchment process this year.

  “I’ve shared with a couple of groups that, as we look ahead, I don’t see a likelihood that we will have a similar instance of the process that we had last fall and into the spring,” Bridgmon said.

  Bridgmon acknowledged last year was challenging, but is optimistic about the potential of this school year.

  “We have a real opportunity here to make it a very special year in building back our community and making some final choices on some processes we started last year,” Bridgmon said. “The value of the lessons learned that we’ve all experienced in this last year, I think, will give us strength and support.”

  Alexander Richards, associate professor and automotive technology management program coordinator, said he wasn’t necessarily surprised by the decision to place his program into abeyance, but he was disappointed.

  “It’s hard for me to let go of the personal perspective of just how much it meant, not only to me, but to my students, and it’s difficult to reflect on that personally and not feel like you’re unwelcome,” Richards said. 

  Richards said he didn’t feel like the process was fair to the ATM program. He said they only were given one week to propose a new program fee, survey students about that initiative and collect data about if the course fee would help the program.

  He also said the UCM administration wants ATM to “teach out” their students in two years despite taking in a new freshman class this semester.

  Richards, citing alumni and industry support, said he is concerned about the legacy of the program from an institutional perspective.

  “What did we give up? What as an institution did we gain by getting rid of that program? And if it’s just cost, that seems like an awful short-sighted view on the future because this program makes us unique,” Richards said.