Education

2 Laid-Off Akron Professors Reinstated After Arbitration

Two professors at the University of Akron have been reinstated after being laid off two years ago, following a ruling from two independent arbiters that found the process problematic.

The two faculty members—dance professor Robin Pritchard and engineering professor Sue Ramlo—will receive back pay and lost benefits, according to The Akron Beacon Journal, which reported the decision from Akron’s Board of Trustees last week. Pritchard and Ramlo were among 66 faculty members laid off due to what administrators said were budget issues caused by the coronavirus.

Though a class action lawsuit for the broader contingent of faculty members failed, Akron’s faculty union took up some individual cases for arbitration. As part of that process, arbitrators determined that the university had improperly laid off both Pritchard and Ramlo.

In Pritchard’s case, arbitrators found that Akron’s plans to change the nature of its dance program were “somewhat sloppy and at times contradictory,” the newspaper reported, noting the university laid Pritchard off at the same time that it planned to hire two other dance professors.

In Ramlo’s case, the university argued her courses were redundant and subject to elimination. However, arbitrators discovered conflicting accounts—including the fact that Akron still offered the courses Ramlo taught in spring 2022, after administrators cited the possible elimination of those classes as justification for letting her go.

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