A paved road, not a pathway
September 17, 2015
The budget cuts Loyola University is currently facing may seem like a deja vu to many faculty members who were at Loyola before Hurricane Katrina.
However, university officials say the current budget-balancing plan differs from the post-storm cuts in some important ways.
Following budget shortfalls from Hurricane Katrina, an emergency budget-cutting regimen called Pathways was proposed. Implementing Pathways involved cutting programs, faculty and staff–something that has been brought back into Loyola’s consciousness due to the recent proposed reforms, commonly referred to as the Financial Equilibrium Plan.
For many faculty and staff who worked at the university prior to Katrina, like Alice Clark, professor of music, Pathways is a raw subject.
“Pathways created a lot of pain as people were let go and programs were cut, terminated and suspended. That created a lot of anxiety, pain, anger and outrage. That’s a kind of damage that doesn’t go away easily. Some of that inevitably remains,” Clark said.
She added that it’s important to acknowledge Pathways in light of the Financial Equilibrium Plan.
“We have to operate with the knowledge that this is part of our past. You cannot simply ignore that and you cannot undergo the kind of process that we’re going through right now without some kind of awareness that that is part of what lives in any of us who were here,” Clark said.
Many faculty members felt that, while the board in charge of finding programs to cut and restructure took input from the dean of each college during Pathways, it failed to include the faculty in those colleges when making decisions.
Administrators want to stress that, unlike Pathways, which was done urgently, quickly and, in some ways, indiscriminately, the current process has been deliberate and more inclusive. Also unlike Pathways, administrators point out that the current process is as much about investing in areas of potential growth as it is about finding places to cut.
The changes being proposed now have taken input from the heads of each program, not just the deans of each program. The program directors filled out a form describing how their programs met the five governing criteria of program reviews: alignment with the strategic plan Transforming Loyola 2020, quality, demand from students, financial efficiency, and relation to the university’s mission.
Marc Manganaro, provost and vice president for academic affairs, made clear that each of the five criteria were given equal weight in the recommendations.
The review committee then made a recommendation to either invest more in the process, maintain the current level of university funding, reduce one programs’ reliance on university funding or consider discontinuing the program altogether.
After the first round of recommendations was proposed in early August, program directors could file appeals to contest their designations. Programs under review for discontinuance were then reviewed for a second time. Five of the 15 programs reviewed a second time were taken out of consideration for discontinuance.
The reviews were then sent to the Standing Council for Academic Planning. Once it is considered there, it will face a final review by the Rev. Kevin Wildes, S.J., university president. He will then send his recommendations to the Board of Trustees.
“We’ve given the programs an opportunity to respond and to let us know where they felt certain information or data was incorrect, or where they feel that data may have been misinterpreted, or just on further reflection what would be the impact on the university of not having this program or having it being reduced,” Manganaro said.
Pathways terminated 17 tenured and tenure-track faculty. Loyola administrators faced eight lawsuits from faculty who argued that they had been terminated in violation of Loyola’s faculty handbook. Those lawsuits were settled out of court and the details were sealed.
Stephen Scariano, who taught mathematics and computer science at Loyola until 2008, said that he was most offended by Pathways because he felt the procedures on letting people go weren’t followed correctly.
The American Association of University Professors censured Loyola administrators following Pathways because they claimed that the administrators violated its standards regarding program discontinuance. When an administration is censured by the organization, they’re attempting to convey the message that the conditions of academic freedom and tenure are unsatisfactory according to their standards. The censure was lifted in 2011.
Manganaro, who is leading the current budget reforms, emphasized in an interview that if a tenured faculty member’s program is discontinued, the university is committed to following the placement process outlined in the faculty handbook.
“The language in the faculty handbook became very refined and more detailed after Pathways,” Manganaro said.
Clark said that she felt assured there would be no issue regarding the termination of tenured faculty with the new reforms.
“I will say that Dr. Manganaro and Dr. Lapovsky are absolutely aware of what the faculty handbook says, and I think they are completely aware that if it were not followed, there would be all kinds of problems. I do believe that the procedures will be followed this time,” Clark said.
Programs that were cut in 2006, such as broadcast journalism, education and computer science, were only continued for one year, prohibiting students in those programs to finish college with the majors they started Loyola with.
With the current proposal, Manganaro said that if a program is discontinued, it will not affect the ability of students currently in that program to finish their respective program, and that all students who came to Loyola to study for a particular degree will be able to finish with that degree.
“We have a responsibility to educate our students and offer them the curriculum that enables them to graduate in a timely way,” Manganaro said.
The Advisory Group, which is the board reviewing programs, has a goal of saving $10 million over the course of the next five years.
“The 10 million number is not just in cuts or discontinued programs, it’s a combination of cuts, finding certain kinds of savings, efficiencies and finding where we can invest to see a generation of revenue,” Manganaro said.
He stressed that Pathways was a reaction to a financial crisis brought about by Katrina, while the current reforms are being proactive to avoid a financial crisis.
“The Pathways process, before many of us were here, was really an urgent planning process in the wake of this catastrophic phenomenon, whereas our financial equilibrium project is something we deliberately chose to take on, is thoughtful and phased, and we’re giving ourselves the time needed to see that project through,” Manganaro said.