AAUP criticizes Southern’s treatment of faculty in cuts
BATON ROUGE (AP) — A national organization of university professors is criticizing the way Southern University faculty members were treated immediately after the school declared a financial emergency nearly two years ago.
The report from the American Association of University Professors accuses Southern of freezing faculty out of the decision-making process as administrators looked for ways to cut costs.
Southern declared a financial emergency, called exigency, in October 2011 as a result of ongoing state budget cuts and student enrollment losses. Exigency, which is generally considered to tarnish a university’s national reputation, allowed Southern to more easily lay off tenured faculty and eliminate degree programs.
Southern eliminated roughly 70 faculty positions and several dozen non-faculty positions through layoffs, retirements, resignations and attrition.
Southern University’s media relations office referred questions about the issue to a letter Chancellor James Llorens wrote to the AAUP defending the university’s actions.
The AAUP report criticizes Southern administrators for settling on exigency as a way out of financial trouble without first consulting faculty..
Southern is faulted for not immediately seizing a deal where 60 percent of faculty volunteered to take 10 percent of their job time off without pay.
In his response to the AAUP, Llorens cites repeated state budget cuts, state-mandated increases in admissions standards and numerous unfunded mandates as the reasons for Southern’s financial troubles and subsequent decision to pursue exigency.
He argued that the university terminated hundreds of staff employees, furloughed administrators, increased class sizes and reduced the number of adjunct faculty in an attempt to stave off the need to declare a financial emergency.