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STATE OF EMPORIA: Notice of Termination Pending; official word on pending program cuts


The layoffs began at Emporia State University.

Media Relations Director Gwen Larson confirmed the advisories to KVOE News on Thursday. She says the university cannot comment on the number of employees or their departments affected, and ESU will have no further information to release until this process is complete and the campus community is informed. up-to-date – including the programs themselves to be reduced or eliminated.

ESU wasted no time in beginning the layoff process after winning unanimous approval from the Kansas Board of Regents on its workforce management framework on Wednesday. The plan has two basic elements: a renewed focus on some programs in a so-called “strike zone” while ending others and having “latitude and opportunity” on staffing decisions, including including the suspension, termination or dismissal of any University employee for a variety of reasons. the reasons. Seven percent of Emporia State’s total workforce is likely to be affected.

ESU’s application to the Board of Regents after a more than 20% decline in on-campus enrollment and a smaller decline in total enrollment since 2017, as well as ongoing financial hardship directly related to COVID-19. Several faculty members and students have taken issue with the stated student-centric approach, saying it is designed to end tenure and could lead to increased recruitment and retention issues, as well as decreased the quality of education and a possible reduction in enrolment.

3 a.m. Thursday: 7% of staff will receive notices of suspension, termination or termination by Friday

The Emporia State University Workforce Management Framework Policy has received the blessing of the Kansas Board of Regents. And with that, seven percent of Emporia State’s total workforce will receive notices of suspension, termination or layoff by Friday.

Members of the Regents voted unanimously to approve the framework as part of their regular meeting on Wednesday afternoon. The decision was made following comments from ESU President Ken Hush and Acting Provost Brent Thomas.

Thomas says the framework will give the university the “space and opportunity” needed to set the university up for long-term success.

The policy gives the administration latitude to “suspend, terminate, or terminate any university employee” for several stated factors, including low enrollment, operating costs, revenue reductions, resource realignment, evaluations performance, teaching and research productivity and low service productivity, but it also indicates that this is not the complete list and the complete list of grounds for termination is not given .

Neither Thomas nor Hush detailed which programs might be considered, however, Hush said all decisions are the result of a thorough “academic review process.”


Additionally, Thomas said the leadership team overseeing the review received input from people representing all areas of the ESU campus.

In the event of suspension, dismissal or termination, President Ken Hush will provide at least 30 days written notice, including the reasons for the action taken. Affected employees can then appeal to the Board of Regents office within 30 days, followed by another 30 day window for Hush to respond and a 10 day window for the matter to be referred to the Board of Regents. KBOR administrative hearings.

Employees bear the burden of proof, according to the policy. Those who win their appeals will be entitled to reinstatement, back pay and restoration of other lost benefits.

President Hush said the ESU framework was needed because of a noticeable decline in on-campus enrollment and lower-level decline in overall enrollment over the past five years, as well as negative financial effects of COVID-19 and the need to update course offerings that reflect the university’s “strike zone”. The Faculty Senate strongly disagrees, saying the framework is nothing more than a means to end tenure, whether on a temporary or permanent basis.

English, modern languages ​​and journalism professor Dan Colson called the move politically motivated, given the Republican supermajority in the Kansas Legislature and Hush’s tenure as a Koch Carbon executive. Colson says members of the faculty leadership weren’t included in the policy-making process until late, and student government leaders said the same. He also sees that the gap between administration and faculty, mentioned several times last week, will serve to hinder faculty recruitment and retention, which will decrease the quality of education and ultimately reduce enrollment. .

Lost in concerns about tenure is one of the other stated goals of the policy, which focuses the university’s attention on certain programs while ending others outside the so-called “zone of strike”. Colson thinks the cuts will be targeted at the arts and humanities. Hush anticipates that 2% of the current student body will be affected and these students will have the opportunity to complete their programs as ESU students. Professor of social sciences, sociology and criminology Michael Smith is a department chair, so he spoke to KVOE News “as a member of the ESU community.”

Smith declined to comment on tenure issues, but he says he would have preferred to see the university halt its current review process without change, use federal CARES Act funds and other funds to stabilize the college budget. the ESU for next year and work with the Kansas Leadership Center on redesigning campus operations — as noted in the online petition that garnered 800 signatures this week.

Click here for more coverage, including Emporia State’s Workforce Management Framework as presented to the Kansas Board of Regents.

Statement from President Ken Hush to Emporia State faculty, staff and students

Dear students, faculty + staff,

As many of you are now aware, the Kansas Board of Regents today approved the use of the ESU Workforce Management Framework until it expires on December 31, 2022. This policy allows the ESU to make program and staffing adjustments that best position ESU for the future. .

This is one of many steps we are taking to further improve our academic programs and enrich the student experience at ESU. To this end, I would like to make it clear that our objective is and will remain the students.

The next step following today’s Board approval is to communicate by the end of this week with those directly affected. Once we’ve spoken with affected employees, we’ll begin sharing additional information with you.

STUDENTS

Because our responsibility is to you and to future students, we will continue to deliver relevant, top-quality programs that will prepare you for today’s workforce upon graduation. The workforce management policy will affect a limited number of students (less than 2%) in specific programs. Students affected by the policy will be contacted and given generous time to complete their program without needing to transfer.

What do these changes mean for the students affected?

* You will be able to complete your current program with the same quality and standard at Emporia State University. You don’t need to change schools.
*The quality of the programming will continue until its completion.
*You will continue to receive current scholarships and financial aid.
* Professional advisors will be there to help you complete your study program as planned.
*You will have access to mental health services if you need them.

UNIVERSITY EMPLOYEES

In order to prevent as soon as possible, university employees (faculty + staff) directly affected will be notified by Friday, September 16.

Faculty and staff affected

* The vast majority of affected employees will have the option of remaining at ESU until May 2023, which is the end of this academic year, and will have the option of receiving a three-month severance package at that time.
*Applicable employees will have access to outplacement services to help you find your next opportunity.
*ESU Human Resources will be available to answer questions and provide resources to support you through the transition.
*You will have access to mental health counseling options.

I am deeply aware of the difficulty and distress that the first effects of this organizational restructuring can have for those who are directly affected and for our university community as a whole. We have been limited in the amount of information we can offer due to the sensitive and confidential nature of matters involving staff and programs. I realize this can be both unsatisfying and frustrating. However, these steps are necessary to lead us to an exciting and successful future. I will keep you posted as information becomes available and becomes public.

Statement from Chairman Ken Hush after the Kansas Board of Regents vote

“We appreciate the Kansas Board of Regents’ endorsement of Emporia State University’s Workforce Management Framework. This framework will give ESU the flexibility to transform ESU in the best interest of our students and allow ESU to be here to serve students for the next 159 years.

“Our next step is to share the details of this transformation with those directly affected and our university community. We anticipate that our colleagues and students will receive details by the end of this week, although this may be subject to change if necessary.

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