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University of Akron offers buy-out to 47 percent of faculty

Gator88NEGator88NE 6412 replies197 postsRegistered User Senior Member
Taking a “voluntary separation or retirement" offer would pay a faculty member 100 percent of 2019-20 base pay, split into two installments. The employee would leave the university on May 31, 2020. The first payment would come on July 2020, the second in January of 2021.
The offer is to full-time permanent (non-visiting) faculty who are not in what the university calls a “Strategic Investment Area.” No law school, polymer science, or engineering faculty can take the offer. UA spokesman Wayne Hill wrote in an email about 47 percent of faculty, or 340 people, are eligible.
https://www.cleveland.com/news/2019/03/university-of-akron-offers-buy-out-to-47-percent-of-faculty.html

The university expects it needs to make about $15 million in cuts. I wonder what % will end up taking it?
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Replies to: University of Akron offers buy-out to 47 percent of faculty

  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6604 replies39 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Wish there was an unhappy button. I have non engineering friends on staff there :(.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77098 replies671 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?q=akron&s=all&id=200800#programs shows the number of graduates in each major for a recent graduating class.
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  • momprof9904momprof9904 327 replies2 postsRegistered User Member
    Thanks to tenure, and no mandatory retirement, the least productive will stay on. They are already retired in place. Math and physics departments usually have larger shares of deadwood. Noted that they were not in the strategic investment list. The mid level, active ones who are marketable will be able to move to other faculty or administrative positions. Something similar happened on our campus. Not a recipe for long term success.
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  • ChaosParent23ChaosParent23 429 replies24 postsRegistered User Member
    Sad. My dad was on faculty there many many moons ago. My niece graduates in just a couple months. It worked out for her. But when my brother tried convincing us it was a good spot for our S, I just said he wants a small school. I had concerns about their financial stability long-term.
    That area of Ohio does seem a little over saturated with schools. Especially considering Kent is w/in spitting distance, then Cleveland is maybe 45 minutes away, and Columbus about 2 hours.
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  • hzhao2004hzhao2004 632 replies2 postsRegistered User Member
    There are schools that turn away 90% of their applicants, and then there are schools like Akron who is starving for students.
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 12668 replies29 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    The NE OH publics need to consolidate.

    People will think it's sad/harsh/cruel, but that's the financial reality.


    "Not a recipe for long term success."

    If you are Akron, facing the future that they face, what better plan would be?
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  • father05father05 215 replies45 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    I don't feel like this thread is too old to revive. S2 and I visited Akron last week and I was impressed with the engineering school. S is looking at Aero or Mech and their design teams and co-ops seemed really mature and well thought out.

    Then I came home and looked around and found all this financial stuff, plus the faculty issued results of an engagement survey basically blasting the administration last week. It seems like the admins are in a tough spot with really only one way out. It's disconcerting to say the least because S really liked what he saw.

    I keep thinking that being engineering, his dept. would be safe but I do wonder if there could be negative fallout that could reach that far. Anyone out there have a feel for what's going to happen there? We are from Pittsburgh, and OH schools have agressively been marketing to OOS kids. Akron, Kent, Toledo, Youngstown would all be considerably less than Pitt or PSU instate, including branches once scholarships are factored in, so we'd like it to be a viable option.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77098 replies671 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    The NE OH publics need to consolidate.

    People will think it's sad/harsh/cruel, but that's the financial reality.

    Akron and Kent State are only 13 miles apart. But that is not the only pair of Ohio public universities that distance apart. Central State and Wright State are also only 13 miles apart.

    https://www.ohiohighered.org/campuses/map

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  • CheddarcheeseMNCheddarcheeseMN 3316 replies11 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think it would only be a concern to be a student in one of the departments that are targeted for voluntary reductions in size. Sounds like they are trying to spare engineering. I’m surprised that they don’t want to shrink their law faculty- law schools elsewhere are hoping faculty will retire. Surprised that dance is favored while Econ is not.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77098 replies671 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Surprised that dance is favored while Econ is not.

    https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?q=akron&s=all&id=200800#programs says that there were only 10 economics and 1 applied economics bachelor's graduate in a recent year. But dance had only 2 bachelor's graduates in a recent year.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6604 replies39 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Akron is trying to morph themselves into a polytechnic. If your child is interested in engineering, I think they will be OK at Akron. My D has a number of friends in honors engineering there and they are all very happy.
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  • father05father05 215 replies45 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Yes there is a lot of overlap between Kent and Akron, but Kent's engineering is nearly nonexistent while Akron's is pretty well developed. Those were my thoughts as well MOS1 but I hope they keep the costs in check if he goes there for 4 years. They do have the tuition guarantee but that does not apply to the OOS surcharge.

    It's good to hear that they are happy - our tour guides and design team members we talked to all seemed pretty satisfied.
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  • father05father05 215 replies45 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    OK, well there's a President. Based on the comments on Cleveland.com, locals seem underwhelmed.
    https://www.cleveland.com/education/2019/08/university-of-akron-selects-gary-miller-as-new-president.html
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  • bclintonkbclintonk 7652 replies31 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 15
    Thanks to tenure, and no mandatory retirement, the least productive will stay on.
    Not so sure about that. My university made a similar offer during a serious financial crunch in the depths of the recent Great Recession, on somewhat more generous terms---150% of annual base pay, and it was open to all faculty. Very few people took the bait. The only people I know who did were getting ready to retire anyway, but were induced to move their retirement date up a bit in exchange for getting paid not to work. Of course, the lateral hiring market was almost non-existent at that point, so that might have affected how many people took the offer.

    Also, the goal of our program was a little different. The university wanted to induce some senior, highly-paid faculty to retire not so much to reduce overall faculty size but to replace them with junior, lower-paid faculty and at the same time to do some internal redistribution of faculty lines between programs based on perceived needs and trends. So if you can replace a costly senior classicist with a lower paid junior computer science prof at a time of shrinking classics enrollments and rising computer science enrollments, that's a double win for the administration. Sounds like Akron needs to actually shrink overall faculty size and perhaps lop off some programs entirely.
    edited August 15
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77098 replies671 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    bclintonk wrote: »
    So if you can replace a costly senior classicist with a lower paid junior computer science prof at a time of shrinking classics enrollments and rising computer science enrollments, that's a double win for the administration.

    Since hiring for CS faulty faces strong competition with industry for people with PhDs in CS, would a junior CS faculty necessarily be less expensive than a senior classics (or other subject with little industry competition to hire) faculty?
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  • father05father05 215 replies45 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    bclintonk wrote: »
    So if you can replace a costly senior classicist with a lower paid junior computer science prof at a time of shrinking classics enrollments and rising computer science enrollments, that's a double win for the administration.

    Since hiring for CS faulty faces strong competition with industry for people with PhDs in CS, would a junior CS faculty necessarily be less expensive than a senior classics (or other subject with little industry competition to hire) faculty?

    If you don't need the senior classics prof, yes. If dollars out are the same but dollars in resulting from tuition/demand for classes is significantly higher, yes. Certainly less expensive from a net cost.

    Some of the programs being eliminated have 1 or 2 graduates per year, or even zero. I know from Akron's engineering presentiation, that there are no departmental limits on any engineering major. If you meet the requirements to the program, you're in. There's no being relegated to an engineering major you don't want. I would think that would lead to a need for more (junior) profs in areas that are in demand, otherwise you run the risk of losing the smaller sections and hands on/approachability factor. Smaller class sizes were definitely discussed as one of their talking points as well. It would seem that the comments about Akron morphing into a STEM/Polytechnic school could be spot on.
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  • bclintonkbclintonk 7652 replies31 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 16
    ucbalumnus wrote:
    Since hiring for CS faulty faces strong competition with industry for people with PhDs in CS, would a junior CS faculty necessarily be less expensive than a senior classics (or other subject with little industry competition to hire) faculty?
    Well, "necessarily" is a strong condition, but with few exceptions it's usually cheaper to hire an entry-level tenure-track faculty member in any discipline than to pay a tenured full professor in any discipline. That said, there certainly are pay differentials by discipline, and yes, CS is toward the high end and humanities toward the low end. This reflects supply and demand in the academic market, and to a limited extent outside competition from the private sector. But in general academic salaries don't come close to matching private sector salaries in fields like CS where there's private sector demand. People become academics because they want to teach and do academic research; CS, engineering, law, and business faculty could almost always make more money in the private sector, but the psychic rewards they get from academic life outweigh the money.

    According to a survey of 696 institutions and 162,818 full-time tenure track faculty conducted by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, the average full professor salary at research universities in 2017-18 was $127,433, while the average newly hired assistant professor salary was $84,345. The average for a full professor in the humanities was $100,750, while the average for a newly hired assistant in CS was $96,000, and in engineering $91,429. So the net cost reduction from replacing a retiring classicist with a newly minted CS assistant professor isn't great, but there's still some cost reduction. Keep in mind these are averages; salaries at individual institutions vary widely.

    Also keep in mind that there's usually a wide range of full professor salaries even within the same discipline at the same institution. Most schools give annual salary increases based on some combination of seniority and merit, and because tenure rules usually prohibit pay cuts, this is a one-way ratchet. Typically full professors at retirement age earn well above the average full professor salary at the same institution.

    Of course, in our example it would save the school a lot more money to simply induce the tenured full professor classicist to retire while not making the CS hire, but if you need to make the CS hire anyway, what better place to find the money to do it?
    edited August 16
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