Eight majors cut, faculty members laid off as part of 'strategic realignment'

By: Alexis Stallard, Editor-In-Chief

A university-wide email was sent out on Wednesday informing all students, staff and faculty that  eight undergraduate programs would be cut and that faculty members had been laid off  “in a strategic effort to realign educational offerings with changing student trends, market forces and emerging industry demands.”

The eight programs being cut are English, finance, history, marketing, math, philosophy, social work and theater. The email said, though, that students currently enrolled in those programs would still be able to complete their majors.

The message did not say how many faculty members had lost their jobs, but a message sent by Vice President of Academic Affairs Alden Stout to faculty last week said that the severance package being offered would give tenured faculty members one year of salary and non-tenured faculty members one week of salary for every year of service. Laid off faculty also will get an additional 20% of that amount to supplement the loss of benefits and a 5% retirement contribution. Tenured faculty members’ dependents also will get a tuition waiver to Newman over the next 10 years, and non-tenured faculty members’ dependents will get the waiver for the next five years.

Newman President Kathleen Jagger told faculty and staff in an email earlier this year that the university was suffering financially and needed to make up a $4 million shortfall.. Three separate committees were formed to propose budget cuts as part of a prioritization process. 

The Academic Program Prioritization charge was led by Stout; The Athletic Program Prioritization process was led by Bob Beumer, vice president of institutional advancement; and the Administrative Resource Prioritization process was led by Anthony Beata.

The faculty members who were laid off will finish out the school year, Wednesday’s announcement said.

“It is never easy to make these decisions, but we can’t responsibly ignore market forces,” Jagger was quoted as saying in Wednesday’s release, which was also sent to alumni. “Our faculty represent the heart of Newman, playing an integral role in shaping our institution and guiding our students towards a brighter future. And, while such decisions are challenging, we are fully committed to supporting affected faculty and students during this transition.”

Student Government Association President Alondra Valle, a junior, is a social work major and said it is disappointing to see valuable programs get cut. 

“As students, we understand it can be hard for administration to tell us why big decisions like this happen, but at the end of the day, we deserve the answers, as we are why Newman is here in the first place,” Valle said. 

Valle also said that she chose Newman based on its social work program and was devastated that professors who had a huge impact on her were being laid off.

The message about the changes sent to students was directly from Jagger, who went on to invite any students that had concerns or questions to contact their advisers or to visit the Academic Affairs office on the third floor of Sacred Heart Hall. 

PHOTO: Courtesy photo, University Relations