Tomorrow morning more than 10 USM faculty members will climb to the seventh floor office of the provost for back-to-back meetings that, some think, will end in notification of their terminations.
Word spread quickly through social networks and between colleagues and students today that the provost called the meetings for tomorrow morning to lay-off additional faculty members. Eight faculty members may already lose their jobs if the four programs that were proposed for elimination from last week are cut. However, according to assistant Professor of Theatre Meghan Brodie, one of the professors who got a call from Stevenson, there has yet to be any official communication on the specifics of the meetings.
“I know that Michael has meetings tomorrow,” said Executive Director of Public Affairs Bob Caswell, but when asked whether he could confirm or deny the purpose of these meetings, he said that he was not able to comment.
Christy Hammer, associate professor of social and behavioral sciences and president of the USM branch of the Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine, sent out an email to faculty union members today with information on the meetings. She reported that AFUM was hearing that 11 to 12 members were slated to be laid-off tomorrow.
“This is horrible news, and the targets include tenured as well as tenure-track faculty across, it appears, exclusively across CAHS [the College of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences,” she wrote.
Brodie too has no doubt that the meetings will end in the lay-offs of additional faculty members, including her and one of her colleagues in the theater department. On top of that, she said that she has heard, that of the 11 to 12, there will be one in art, one in philosophy, two in sociology, three in English and one from the Lewiston-Auburn Campus. Faculty have, she said, among themselves compiled this list.
Brodie reported that in her own department, elimination of two faculty could leave the Theatre Department with only three faculty members in two year’s time. If two are eliminated for this year, five will be left in May, but two of those are already in phased retirement.
“My concern is that…this is sort of the first step in getting rid of the theater program,” she said. “It’s mind-boggling. We’re a big department.”
“It feels messy and shady in a way. And they’re not taking into account the students’, or “the customers’,” as they like to call us, opinion at all,” said junior theater major Sarah Kennedy. “The administration has no idea the impact these teachers have on their students. They don’t see that caring aspect on a business level. “
Kennedy said that laying off Brodie will have a domino effect in the tightly knit program and that it will result in a less effective theater education program across the board.
Senior theater major Caleb Lacey said he and other theater students will be in Portland waiting to hear what happens in the meetings. They plan to protest any cuts that are made. Lacey said the students need to be heard.
A student meeting is set for tomorrow in the Woodbury Campus Center Amphitheater at 10 a.m.
Check back for updates as we report on the meetings tomorrow.
Sam Hill contributed to this article.