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PUC reverses course on faculty layoffs

Updated: October 16, 2013 6:54AM



HAMMOND — Purdue University Calumet has rescinded its layoffs of seven tenure-track faculty members a month after telling those instructors that declining enrollment had cost them their jobs.

Purdue Calumet’s interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, Peggy Gerard, said in an administrative blog posting that the Hammond school rescinded the layoffs because the campus’ fall enrollment had been better than expected.

School officials had expected to see a 7 percent drop in fall credit hour enrollment at Purdue Calumet, but the decline was only about 4 percent.

Prior to Wednesday’s announcement by Gerard, the seven affected faculty members had been preparing for their contracts to end at the conclusion of this or next academic year.

Marcus Rogers, a cyberforensics professor at Purdue’s West Lafayette campus, told the Journal & Courier he’s pleased with how the situation turned out.

“We really couldn’t ask for a lot more other than it never happened in the first place,” he said. “At the end of the day, seven faculty members have their jobs back.”

Purdue Calumet administrators had sent the notices in early August in response to anticipated lower enrollment they said would cost the university $3 million. The notices prompted a wave of complaints from faculty and the Indiana Conference of the American Association of University Professors.

That group said Purdue Calumet did not properly demonstrate that its financial situation merited the cuts and administrators did not make faculty “meaningfully involved” in cost-cutting decisions.

Although the overall enrollment numbers were improved, school officials said Purdue Calumet will still see a $2 million budget shortfall. Gerard said the school will cover that by saving $1 million from 15 faculty members who took retirement buyouts and by reducing $1 million from its budget in non-instructional areas.

Following the layoffs, Purdue Calumet faculty created their own chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

David Nalbone, an associate professor of psychology who’s president of the new AAUP chapter, said he’s happy that the layoffs were rescinded.

“We’re still concerned about the process and especially making sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” he said.



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