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Faculty Union President Grieves after Arbitrator Allows UA Layoffs

photo of Dolli Quattrocchi-Gold
Current and retired staff -- such as Dolli Quattrocchi Gold -- rallied in July to ask the university to support academic programs over athletics.

While University of Akron president Gary Miller says an arbitrator’s decision will help secure the school’s financial future, the head of the faculty union is grieving the loss of dozens of professors.

The arbitrator last week upheld the layoffs of 96 union faculty under an “act of God” clause in the union contract. The university says it needed to make the cuts to address falling revenue and enrollment caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But union head Pam Schulze says the process is moving too fast, and UA is not considering the long-term effects on the faculty who remain.

“When we need to look at cuts to athletics, [the university says] ‘we need to slow down and form a committee and think about it for a long time – a year or two – [since] we don’t want to rush into it.’ But when we cut academics, we just can’t do it fast enough.”

In the spring the university cut three teams saving $4.4 million. In July, it announced plans to form a working group to study athletic spending.

Schulze says union leadership will be meeting this week to discuss next steps, and also to begin working on a new contract. They will also release the results of a survey – which closes tomorrow – on faculty thoughts about the cuts and the university’s future.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.