Who were the professors affected by layoffs?

By: Alexis Stallard, Editor-In-Chief

Newman announced earlier this month a slate of reprioritization efforts that will result in several majors being cut and 10 faculty members being laid off. The changes will take effect after the end of this school year.

Alden Stout, vice president of academic affairs, confirmed in the SGA Town Hall that 10 faculty members had received notice that their contracts would not be renewed after this year. 

The Vantage asked the Newman University Relations department to confirm the names of the affected professors, but director Clark Schafer said the university’s policy was to not comment on individual personnel matters. 

The Vantage was able to gather an unofficial list of the affected professors and reached out to all of them. Five responded and confirmed that they were not receiving contract renewals. They also shared some information about their accomplishments at Newman and their feelings about their positions being eliminated

The remaining professors contacted either did not respond or responded by declining to comment.

The eight programs being cut are English, finance, history, marketing, math, philosophy, social work and theater, though students currently enrolled in those programs will be able to complete their majors with adjuncts filling in, university officials have said.

The severance package offered provides tenured faculty members one year of salary and non-tenured faculty members one week of salary for every year of service. It also provides an additional 20% of that amount to supplement the loss of benefits and a 5% retirement contribution. Tenured faculty members’ dependents 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.

Here’s the list of professors The Vantage was able to confirm were affected by the changes. Another story will be published if more professors confirm their positions were cut:

Janet Jump, assistant professor of education: Jump said she joined Newman in 2018 as an assistant professor for the education department after retiring from USD 259, the Wichita public school district. She won several awards for her work and service in the Wichita Public Schools. Jump said she has had a wonderful time working with the students at Newman and appreciates the support of the ASC Sisters and her colleagues. 

“I have learned a lot, enjoyed it immensely, and have appreciated the opportunity to work at such a great University,” she  said. 

Jump added that, even though the university is going through a tough time, she is confident that the students will still be taken care of and receive a great education.

“I will miss working at Newman, and with our wonderful students,” she said.

Jump was not tenured.

Amelia Hopper, associate professor of nursing: Hopper was in her 10th year as a professor at Newman when she got the news that her position would be cut, she said. Hopper said she had taught a wide variety of nursing courses but most recently has taught nursing simulation classes. She is keeping her options open for her future, she said, adding that she has loved getting to work with the students at Newman. 

“I understand they had to do what they had to do although it is hard to not take it personally especially given all the hard work and heart I've put into my courses and my students,” Hopper said. 

With her departure, the nursing program will have seven faculty members remaining. 

Hopper was not tenured.

Lindsey Stillwell, assistant professor of social work: Stillwell has been at Newman for three full years and has been serving as the department’s interim director for the past two years. She first came to Newman as an adjunct professor in 2019 and became a full-time professor in 2020. 

Stillwell said she was a champion of Newman's “Moving the Needle” campaign, which focuses on improving the student experience and giving students the support they need to graduate. Last year, she was won the Faculty Excellence Award. 

Stillwell said she is now looking into positions on the West Coast. 

The bachelor’s of social work program will cease to exist after Stillwell leaves Newman, but she encouraged students currently in the program, who will have the opportunity to complete it, to also take advantage of the master’s of social work program, which will remain. 

“In Isaiah 43:18-19 the Lord says, ‘Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert,’” Stillwell said. 

She was not tenured.

Jamey Findling, associate professor of social work: Findling is in his 21st year teaching as a full-time, tenured professor at Newman in the philosophy department. He joined Newman in 2003 and has taught courses in philosophy and the Newman Studies Program. 

Findling said he was a chair of the task force that wrote the Newman Code and was also on the task force that wrote Newman’s current mission statement and defined the university’s core values. 

“I also served as the first director of the Gerber Institute and, with Chris Fox, created the philosophy major that is now being eliminated,” Findling said. 

Christopher Fox, associate professor of philosophy: Fox is another long-time, tenured faculty member whose position was cut. Fox is in his 20th year at Newman, having joined as an assistant professor in 2004. He received the Teaching Excellence Award in 2007 and was the Faculty Senate Leader in 2009. He also helped create the Newman Studies Program curriculum and then served as a chair on the NSP committee. 

Beyond his work as a professor, Fox has published several peer-reviewed articles during his time at Newman and has been working on a historically based philosophy book since 2005. However, Fox said his work as a professor has always come first. 

“During my time at Newman, undergraduate teaching has been the focus of my career,” Fox said. “Like most faculty here I teach a heavy load: four courses per semester plus overloads, advising, and committee work.”

Fox said that the Department of Philosophy is being eliminated, meaning there will be no other philosophy professors after his departure. He plans to continue working as a post-academic and possibly work with a non-profit organization. 

Fox said he has several colleagues at other Catholic universities going through similar economic situations that are forcing them to downsize. 

“But what I can say, having lasted through three Presidents at Newman, is that the same patterns, practices and problems that were here when I arrived seem likely to continue after I leave,” Fox said. “That is unfortunate and I hope things will be different.”

PHOTO: Courtesy photo, University Relations