Purdue Cal lays off 7 faculty members
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent August 8, 2013 11:00AM
Updated: September 10, 2013 6:20AM
HAMMOND — Seven Purdue University Calumet faculty members have been let go because of budget cuts.
Chancellor Thomas Keon told a packed room of faculty during a Thursday morning meeting on campus that one continuing lecturer and four assistant professors have been notified that 2013-14 will be their last year in full-time, tenure-track positions, while two other assistant professors have been notified that 2014-15 will be their last year as full-time, tenure-track.
Twelve other faculty members have taken a retirement package, Keon said. That package includes one year’s salary, $5,000 a year for three years to offset retirement costs, office space, which includes a telephone line and school email address, and the chance to teach as adjunct faculty as the school needs.
Should the university — which is facing budget issues tied to declines in students taking core credit courses among other issues — be able to make other budget cuts, the letters may be rescinded, Keon said. He did not, however, want to give anyone a false sense of hope.
“Any ways in which we can find a cost savings to help us take those letters back would be wonderful,” Keon said. “We’ll be looking at options all year to rescind those letters.
“We have 28 assistant professors, and letting six of them go was awful.”
Keon said the cuts are in response to continued credit-hour losses in Engish, mathematics, science and social sciences. One reason for this is that many students are taking core classes at Ivy Tech or other community colleges and transferring to Purdue Calumet. Additionally, the state said colleges can no longer offer associate degrees, nor can they offer remedial classes.
Further adding to the problem is high school students taking dual-credit and/or advanced placement courses in high school, Keon said.
Though fall enrollment is up slightly and Purdue officials are negotiating to lease again the year and eventually sell next year the Purdue Academic Learning Center in Merrillville, the school is facing a $3 million shortfall. The goal, then, was to stem the shortfall to $1.5 million without too much damage to the faculty, Keon said.
When asked why the school is going ahead with hiring a vice chancellor of Information Services when the school is laying off faculty, Keon said the state of Purdue Calumet’s student data and enrollment is in crisis and needs someone to helm the transition to electronic systems, of which he hopes to have at least enrollment switched over by the end of this school year.
“We need to make investments in the enrollment management process,” he said. “We must process admissions faster because we’re losing students.”
And any cash reserves the school has will buttress the shortfall but must be used judiciously or it could be gone in a couple of years.
Professor Maurice Eisenstein said to the crowd that he’s “a little offended” with the layoffs since faculty has nothing to do with why there’s a shortfall in the first place.
“(Former Chancellor Howard) Cohen came up with the electronic admissions process years ago, and it’s never been done,” Eisenstein said. “None of (the faculty) has anything to do with admissions, so why not remove the people who haven’t done their job?
“The fault doesn’t lie in the ‘Royal we.’ Someone did it. We’ve heard the same story through at least two chancellors, so how did we not get scanners (to help with electronic admissions)?”
Wes Lukoshus, vice chancellor for advancement, said until the electronic systems are in place, there’s no telling if there will be any layoffs in those departments.