Several faculty members may leave Doane University in the 2021-22 school year as Doane faces a financial crisis.
Faculty members won’t lose jobs in the 2020-21 school year because they have signed contracts, Faculty Council President Tim Hill said. But he predicted several faculty would leave Doane by the 2021-22 school year.
“We should expect lots of talented faculty members to head for the exits in the next two to three years whether or not their jobs are eliminated,” Hill said.
Doane, like other colleges, is facing financial problems as a result of the COVID-19 virus. Enrollment is down. Before the pandemic, Doane predicted around 907 students this fall, but with COVID-19, numbers are unclear.
Doane now has 993 traditional undergraduate students enrolled. Each student lost equals revenue lost.
Before COVID-19, Doane was looking at a $2 million projected loss for the 2020-21 academic year.
This loss is on top of a $12.5 million deficit in the endowment before COVID-19.
“Time is not on our side - by Fall of 2020, we could have a massive deficit and there may not be recovery funds,” a slide on the April 24, Budget Update Presentation said.
Head of Steer Committee and Vice President for Financial Affairs Julie Schmidt said that it is very possible to reach even a $3.5 million or higher deficit by potential decline in student enrollment alone so action was needed.
To plan for the future, Doane has created three task forces to analyze programs and look at ways to build revenue. It hired Academic Strategic Partners, a firm that specializes in setting academic and administrative priorities, to do that for Doane.
The administration told faculty last month that it wishes to begin the prioritization study in May. It expects the study to last through the summer.
Moving up the timeline for the study, which originally was planned for the 2020-21 academic year, upset faculty.
“Since our teaching loads are so heavy compared to most institutions, summers are typically our time to do research. It’s also when we get ahead on our class prep for the coming year, a task that will be especially important if we end up spending part of or all of the fall teaching remotely,” Hill said. “It’s hard to see this [expedited prioritization] as something we all have to pitch in to solve, rather than something that’s being done to us by those [administrators] who are risking nothing themselves.”
There is no compensation for putting the reports together besides
“The benefit to anyone writing a report is taking the time to save your program,” Schmidt said. “So I would think that was a benefit - taking the time to justify and say to the task force, ‘This is something that is really important to me’.”
From May to July, faculty are asked to collect data about their programs. The data will include the demand for the program and the quality of it. Faculty also are to include the cost and size of the program as well as how productive it is. Data about the program’s essentiality and its impact will also be sought, according to Julie Schmidt, chairwoman of the Steering Committee and Vice President for Financial Affairs.
From July to August, the task forces will rank the programs and submit the ranking to Doane University President Jacque Carter.
From September to October, the President will develop recommendations to submit to the Board of Trustees. The board will decide which programs stay and which will go. The plan will be implemented following the October Board of Trustees meeting.
To relieve faculty distress, Schmidt said that they held a faculty assembly to air questions and have been posting FAQs on the Prioritization portal.
Doane and Academic Strategic Partners insist that all university roles and budgets, including the administration, will be reviewed.
But that fails to improve faculty morale, which continues to decrease, Hill said.
“I’m not looking for other employment at the moment,” Hill said. “But people’s spirits are broken, so if they can find other work, they will take it.”