Schill presents budget plan; faculty layoffs likely

The University of Oregon’s budget issues are causing President Michael Schill to overhaul the university’s faculty funding system, and in the process, will likely cut some non-tenure faculty positions.

Schill introduced the loose plans of three budget-cutting projects that affect non-tenured faculty members’ job security on March 1, at the UO Faculty Senate meeting at 3 p.m. in the EMU.

This statement comes as a timely response to a Register-Guard article on Feb. 28 that suggested 75 UO faculty members would be laid off. Schill responded to the faculty senate with confusion over the numbers, saying that they were “extraordinarily speculative.”

Schill’s first project empowers deans of in-debt schools and colleges at UO to make their own individual 2.5-year plan to bring their budgets in balance. That could mean faculty cuts, adding masters programs, cutting smaller classes or eliminating programs of their choice, according to Schill. Schill said the deans are required to submit the plans by the end of the March.

The second project will centralize funding for tenure and non-tenure faculty, reducing the influence of each department’s dean. Deans will no longer be able to replace the line — or position of a tenured faculty member — within their schools. Instead, the provost will take control of it and reassign it to a school that he desires.

Schill said the current budgeting system creates strong incentives for deans to maximize revenue by “increasing the desirability of course offerings,” Schill said. Humanities and social sciences departments have suffered the most from this model because students tend to leave them for more popular departments. But the problem, Schill says, is that faculty stay in their positions, leaving a lop-sided department. It will be implemented in 2019, he said.

“The strategic direction of our university was put into the hands of 18- to 22-year-olds,” Schill said. “It wreaked havoc on our university.”

Another part of the plan, that started yesterday according to Schill, moves the hiring of tenured faculty to the new provost, Jayanth Banavar — a swing in power from the former system that gave deans that ability.

Choosing tenured faculty “is where the ability to steer the university comes from,” Schill said, and stated that centralizing that hiring will strengthen the university.

Adding up these three plans with the recently announced 10.6 percent in-state tuition raise, a 3 percent out-of-state tuition increase and a $50 student technology fee per quarter, UO’s budget is still $8.8 million in the red.

Schill plans to present his plans to the UO Board of Trustees on March 2 and 3.

He said he hopes to end the school year with a balanced budget.

Listen to news reporter Will Campbell elaborate on Pres. Schill’s budget plan in the Emerald podcast below.

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Will Campbell

Will Campbell

I'm the Senior News Editor at the Emerald. I was born and raised in Vancouver, WA.