About a year and a half ago, Dr. Phil Schubert stood before a packed Hart Auditorium, twice, to give details on a plan to cut $10 million from the university’s budget. The two-year plan, effective in May 2012, called for elimination of about 35 university positions. A handful of those positions, most of them in Student Life, are about to be cut [once again]before next semester.
Dr. Allison Garrett, executive vice president of the university, said the budget cuts will eliminate five and a half full-time staff positions before the Fall 2013 semester. She said the university will also financially take advantage of some staff retirements and departures from the university by not replacing them, or changing job descriptions. Garrett also said some position’s duties have been revised, with some of those employees having been let go because their skill sets did not match the revised position. She said the positions to be cut are confidential.
This makes for a great amount of senior leadership turnover since Dr. Phil Schubert became president before the 2010-11 academic year. The provost and three college deans have already had to be replaced. Currently, the university is seeking replacements for the dean of students/vice president for Student Life, the associate vice president for Student Life, assistant dean for Residence Life and chief financial officer. The dean of COBA, Dr. Rick Lytle, has been away from ACU since October 2012. Garrett filled the EVP position after it was empty for almost two years. This administration looks far different than the one in 2009-2010. Schubert said the changes are understandable following his assumption of the president position almost three years ago.
“That’s the nature of transition,” Schubert said. “It had been 20 years since we had a new president and I think any time you change leadership in an organization there is a greater likelihood of administrative changes to follow.”
In the budget cuts plan, Schubert said about 10 faculty and 25 staff positions would be cut. Since then, fewer employees have actually been cut because the university has adapted to retirements, departures and position requirement changes in an attempt to cut as few employees as possible. These cuts are on top of other staff turnover within university departments and offices, like cuts in the Intramurals Office and faculty members leaving the university like Mike Cope and Dr. Bill Rankin.
“The reality is, we’re in transition all the time,” Schubert said. “We’ll turn over 50-60 employees every year.”
Dr. Robert Rhodes, provost, said no faculty positions will be cut in the near future. In fact, a yet-to-be-determined number of faculty members, probably about eight to 10, will be hired before next semester.
Schubert said the university shouldn’t see much more turnover in the senior level roles, and should only have about the usual amount of turnover throughout the university from now on.
“Certainly at those senior level roles, we don’t have many other positions to turn over,” he said.
But Schubert is optimistic that the current administration is qualified and beneficial to the university.
“I think we have an incredibly strong team of talented people to take us forward,” he said.