Numbers on how many NTT faculty were cut at MU trickle in


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It was still unclear late Friday afternoon how many non-tenure-track faculty at MU will not have their contracts renewed for the 2018-2019 school year.

Some NTT faculty members up for reappointment were notified Wednesday that they will lose their jobs effective at the end of May. Interim Provost Jim Spain said in an email that the non-renewals were a consequence of state budget cuts and decreasing net student enrollment.

Three of the four colleges from which information could be verified so far were not affected by the NTT cuts.

"To my knowledge we had no non-renewal notifications sent this week," Christopher R. Daubert, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources, wrote in an email Friday.

The same was true for the College of Education. "Zero," Steve Adams, the college's manager of strategic communications, said Friday.

MU Law School Dean Lyrissa Lidsky said Wednesday the school's NTT faculty are on contracts that end in May 2020 and were not affected. However, she said the school would have to reduce personnel to achieve certain budget-cutting scenarios proposed by top administrators.

"We need to cut almost $1 million to make a 10 percent budget cut," Lidsky said. "We are still working out the details of the cuts."

MU spokesman Christian Basi said earlier this week that each MU unit — colleges, divisions and various offices — has been tasked with planning for budget cuts of 10 percent, 12.5 percent and 15 percent. The final cuts will not necessarily be distributed evenly across all divisions, he said, and the decisions by deans for NTT cuts are based on the knowledge that a substantial budget cut is highly likely.

Notices of faculty cuts came after hundreds of staff positions were eliminated in June to meet last year's budget.

Pat Okker, dean of the College of Arts and Science, said Wednesday: "Based on the current information I have, two non-tenure-track faculty members have appointments that will not be renewed based on budget cuts. Both faculty members have already been notified."

Updated information was not immediately available Friday from Engineering, Business, Health Professions, Human Environmental Sciences, Journalism, Medicine, Nursing and Veterinary Medicine.

Basi said although he hoped to have an update Friday on the total number of contracts not renewed, he had not received that information.

"I do know that the individuals who received the notices (of non-renewals) were also given additional information about transition assistance," Basi said.

Eligible NTT faculty will receive transition assistance, according to Spain's email. To qualify for the assistance, they must be non-clinical faculty, eligible for benefits and have worked at MU for at least three years — their non-renewal must also be a consequence of budget uncertainties, not poor performance.

Faculty employed by MU between three and 10 years will receive $5,000; between 10 and 15 years, $10,000; and 15 or more years, $12,500.

Ben Trachtenberg, former chair of the MU Faculty Council, attributed some of the current uncertainties to a system that was "designed in an older era, when the bulk of faculty were tenure or tenure-track."

Tenure-track faculty who don’t receive tenure can stay at MU for another year, during which they may seek alternate jobs. Staff members in good standing whose positions are discontinued can receive Transition Assistance Program, or TAP, pay based on their years of service. A permanent system of cushions like these doesn’t exist now for NTT faculty, Trachtenberg said.

"Something similar to that for NTTs in my opinion is essential," Trachtenberg said.

Today, it's much more common for a large university to hire NTT faculty to accommodate fluctuating student populations and tightening budgets, Trachtenberg said.

In 2017, about 43 percent of MU faculty were NTT, or 846 of the total 1,969 faculty members, according to data from MU's Institutional Research & Quality Improvement.

A large percentage of those 846 are clinical faculty at MU Health Care, Trachtenberg said. Although they may do some teaching, they spend the majority of their time caring for patients.

"We've got NTTs who’ve been here for decades," Trachtenberg said. "Some of the most important service on this campus is done by NTTs."

Another question will be whether a system exists that might allow affected colleges to keep certain NTT faculty members who teach a large number of classes, he said.

"As far as I know, all of the deans are preparing different budget scenarios, because of uncertainty with the state appropriations," Trachtenberg said.

In the meantime, he said he hopes a more permanent transition assistance system can be put into place that will benefit everyone — "anything we can do to provide a little more job security and a little more humane treatment for those (NTT faculty members)."

Missourian reporter Olivia Garrett contributed to this report.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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