Cuts Hit Faculty, Philosophy at Western Oregon

Western Oregon University has notified some faculty members of layoffs amid cost-cutting efforts that include the elimination of its philosophy major and minor, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

The public university in Monmouth, in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, plans to lay off four tenured professors in the cuts, which will also affect the equivalent of 11 nontenured faculty members through layoffs or class reductions, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. A collective bargaining agreement requires those being laid off to be employed for another year.

The cuts come shortly after more than 50 staff members were laid off or didn’t have their contracts renewed. They follow a task force plan to eliminate programs like philosophy, anthropology and geography, as well as some other master’s programs, certificates and minors. University leaders attribute the cuts to low or declining enrollment in affected programs.

“Frankly, I’d say our campus is still grieving, not just the loss of the faculty positions, but also dozens of staff positions, and we’ve had to do that,” the university’s provost, Rob Winningham, told Oregon Public Broadcasting. “Otherwise we would have needed to significantly increase tuition … But more pragmatically, that would have cut off access to higher ed for many Oregonians. And so that’s one of the reasons we’re having to do this very difficult work.”

Planned cuts are expected to save more than $2 million in faculty salaries, benefits and other personnel expenses.

The university’s president, Rex Fuller, is scheduled to retire later this year. He was hit with a no-confidence vote last year.

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