No Layoffs at VCU!
I hope you all are doing well. I wanted to bring your attention to a significant development concerning VCU’s non-tenure track faculty contracts and curricular changes, both of which are important for our local to understand and discuss.
Yesterday morning, Inside Higher Ed published an article highlighting recent detrimental plans made by VCU administration, one being discontinuing the offering of three-year contracts to term faculty members.
The article also points out an alarming discrepancy in the number of layoffs within the Focused Inquiry faculty members, with the Senior VP for Academic Administration, William Nelson, stating a higher number than was previously communicated by VCU University College Dean, Contance Relihan, last Friday. Furthermore, it highlights an intention to reduce the Focused Inquiry three-class sequence to two courses.
This change contradicts the curricular changes that the General Education Curriculum Committee (GECC) and University Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UUCC) approved during this academic year. Additionally, this decision undermines the principle of shared governance, as faculty input was not sought despite the changes directly affecting our newly codified general education program (VCU ConnectED).
The article raises another concern by mentioning the possibility of “additional teaching capacity” for other faculty members across the university to teach Focused Inquiry courses. This direction further perpetuates the administration’s view of term faculty as disposable and signals a push to alter the teaching loads of tenured faculty members throughout the university.
Like with everything we’ve been facing recently, these efforts are not guided by care for students and faculty, and only threaten the success and wellbeing of everyone at this institution.
I appreciate everyone’s attention to this matter, especially considering how deeply these developments impact our organization and members. I look forward to continuing discussing how we can combat these threats together.
VCU, Department of Focused Inquiry Area Committee Chair