Alumni Blitz for the Liberal ArtsBreaking News
tags: liberal arts, history major, colleges and universities
Eleven humanities professors at Adrian College in Michigan recently began their terminal year there, or so they thought. Then the administration rescinded their previously delivered pink slips and promised to find other ways to balance its budget. What changed Adrian’s mind?
Hint: It wasn’t the faculty, which, still fuming about the threatened cuts and other issues, has since voted no confidence in Adrian’s president and dean of academic affairs.
Instead, it was alumni who persuaded Adrian to reverse the cuts -- and not all of the alumni were big names. Several thousand graduates, many of them recent, waged a simple but relentless social media and direct outreach campaign to #SaveACHumanities.
“The outpouring of support for the humanities from alumni and friends of the college made me pause to reconsider my decision,” Jeffrey Docking, Adrian’s president, told Inside Higher Ed last week. "We will use this year to strategize about other ways to support the budget and the humanities without making cuts."
Earlier this year, citing a desire to maximize the small, private institution’s budget, Adrian quietly shared with its faculty plans to cut three departments: history, theater and the joint religion, philosophy and leadership unit. The cuts would be effective at the end of the 2020-21, Adrian said. No program faculty members would be retained.
Shocked by the news, the Adrian College Association of Professors, Adrian’s National Education Association-affiliated faculty union, started to push back. Central to its argument was that the affected departments more than paid their faculty’s salaries when counting numbers of majors and the effective price of tuition. Last year, for instance, history had 23 active majors and 14 education majors specializing in social studies, out of about 1,800 total students, according to the union. History has four professors, three tenured and one on the tenure track.
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