Minnesota State Moorhead proposes cuts to 5 majors

Published 10:28 am Friday, December 6, 2013

MOORHEAD — Administrators at Minnesota State University Moorhead on Thursday outlined plans to eliminate majors, merge several departments and lay off six faculty members to help solve a $4.9 million budget deficit.

Administrators detailed the cuts in a meeting with the Faculty Association. The plan is projected to save $2 million in the 2015 fiscal year and $919,000 in fiscal year 2016.

The plan calls for a reduction of 16 temporary faculty positions and six layoffs of tenured or tenure-track faculty in the community health, elementary and early childhood education, English, history, theater arts and special education graduate programs.

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Five majors with relatively few students would be eliminated — American multicultural studies, medical laboratory technician, master of fine arts in creative writing, music composition and community health.

Ted Gracyk, chairman of the Faculty Association, which serves as the bargaining unit for permanent faculty at Minnesota State Moorhead, calls it a “sad day to be a Dragon.”

Though a tenured or tenure-track faculty member’s current program may be closed, those faculty members are not immediately laid off, Gracyk said. Those faculty members may be reassigned and retrained, he said.

Each of the program areas targeted for layoffs does not have any temporary faculty whose positions could be eliminated, Provost Anne Blackhurst said.

If the administration decides to move forward, the layoffs would take effect in May 2015.

Earlier this fall, Minnesota State Moorhead made early retirement offers to about 100 faculty and staff members. Only 21 of them agreed to buyouts. School officials were seeking 35 retirements.

If more faculty members respond to a second round of early retirement incentives, Blackhurst said layoff notices could be rescinded.

The administration proposed merging some departments to increase curricular efficiency and reduce the number of department chairs that are allotted a fixed number of hours for administrative duties.

The Faculty Association will respond during a Dec. 20 meeting with the administration.