UM Faculty 'Fearful, Anxious' After Proposed Budget Cuts

Dec 4, 2015

The majority of faculty and staff comments on proposed job cuts at the University of Montana are, “painful, fearful and anxious.”

That’s according to a summary of more than 120 emails that was sent to University President Royce Engstrom today.

At a Faculty Senate meeting last week, Engstrom solicited feedback on his plan to cut 201 faculty and staff jobs at the school due to several years of declining enrollment.

The summary says, “a small handful of [the comments] were supportive” of Engstrom’s plan, and that within the “strong and prevalent criticism” of his remarks to the Senate, “there were also suggestions for how to move us all forward.”

But it characterizes the “overall tone” as one of “fear and demoralization.” Many of the comments “expressed concern that the proposed cuts will not be enough and will have to be repeated in future years,” and questioned the assumption that enrollment will not decline further.

Some faculty are concerned about the job cuts are creating “a competitive dynamic” between departments. The cuts are focused primarily in humanities departments like arts, journalism and political science. Those identified as likely to grow in enrollment include business and data science.

President Engstrom has said that the job cuts are necessary to, “rightsize” the University’s workforce after it swelled to meet growing enrollment during the recent recession, which has since declined.  Engstrom also cited the university’s “ongoing visibility around the topic of sexual assault,” for declining enrollment.