As many as eleven faculty members will lose their positions with the university by the end of the year as part of a budget realignment plan to be announced in detail later this month. Under the plan, several departments face restructuring and mergers, and the university will offer early retirement to some faculty members.
The university’s Senior Leadership Team will present the new comprehensive plan to the Board of Trustees ï»¿on Nov. 11. Six days later, Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, will present the plan in detail to all faculty and staff.
“This realignment is in response to the volatile economy as we are making sure ACU is safe in times when the economy is tough,” Schubert said. “We’re making adjustments as most institutions are.”
Schubert said that the realignment is important to preserve the financial strength of the university to adjust to the current economy.
“We recognize that this is going to have an enormous impact on those involved,” Schubert said. “We’re doing everything we can to come alongside them in the transition process, and we’re making sure we help them in every way we can so we can ensure this isn’t a major disruption in their lives.”
Schubert said he regretted the need for the eliminations.
“These are people who have invested a number of years of service here at ACU,” he said. “They’re important members of this community and it’s unfortunate that we’re in this situation where we need to make these adjustments.”
Also outlined in an email circulated to faculty early this week is the merging of specific departments in the College of Arts and Sciences. Three departments will be adjusted before the beginning of the 2012-13 school year.
In the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the agribusiness degree will close, and if a realignment plan for the remaining courses is not approved, the animal science degree will close and environmental science will be moved to the Department of Biology.
The Department of Foreign Language will merge with the Department of English, and the Department of Sociology and Family Studies will be dispersed among the Department of Political Science, the College of Biblical Studies and the College of Education and Human Services.
Schubert said the merging of departments will have minimal impact on students in these fields.
“We’re maintaining our commitment to students actively studying in these areas,” Schubert said. “It shouldn’t be a distraction to their studies.”
The early details of the plan released include a voluntary retirement package to be offered to tenured faculty of 60 years of age who have worked at ACU for 10 straight years in an effort to cut costs, according to an email sent to faculty members Friday afternoon.
Schubert said a retirement plan of this structure reduces the number of required decisions for eliminating or adjusting other positions in the future. He said about 40 faculty members are eligible for the early retirement package.
“I think any time we’re looking at the prospect of reducing positions, offering a volunteer retirement plan for tenured faculty is an attractive option,” Schubert said. “For some who might be contemplating that anyway, it provides an additional benefit to help smooth the transition.”
Schubert said the entire realignment plan is not a short-term vision; it should have the university prepared for the future.
“I can’t make any guarantees but this plan is built to last a good deal into the future,” he said.