Faculty reductions possible, said VP of Finance and Administration at faculty meeting

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A discussion Monday about the rise in health care costs turned into an announcement that DePauw administration may consider faculty layoffs as a means to address the school’s financial shortfalls.

Bob Leonard, vice president for finance and business, told those in attendance at the monthly faculty meeting that “firing is never a good thing, but clearly as we look to the future we may need to reduce faculty headcount.”

Concerned faculty raised questions about the University’s financial future during a contentious two-and-a-half-hour meeting in a packed Thompson Recital Hall. Vice President of Finance and Administration Bob Leonard addressed the state of the University’s finances and the potential for faculty firings due to the University’s current financial circumstances.  

“We are running a multi-million-dollar operating deficit and we need to find additional and much more material efficiencies across our entire operations,” said Leonard. “That includes all divisions.”

Leonard explained that DePauw cannot continue to absorb the annual operational cost increases, as well as the rising national cost of healthcare. The University has been unable to find any additional savings to compensate for these increasing expenditures.

Leonard stated that it is critical for the university to accomplish a balanced budget in short order, so that the University can continue to invest in its campus and innovative revenue-generating strategies.

Leonard acknowledged the breakdown in communication between the administration and faculty over the recent months. He said, “I want to change pass practice and make sure faculty are fully aware and engaged in fiscal management.”

When asked by Professor Alicia Suarez whether she should be worried for the security of her job Leonard responded by saying that no one should be worried about faculty layoffs, but it is a possibility in the future.

In an email addressed to all faculty on Tuesday, Oct. 2, President McCoy said, “I am writing to quell concerns arising from a comment Bob made at yesterday’s meeting.” He wrote, “Bob was answering a hypothetical question in response to financial challenges. To be clear, there are no plans to cut positions and no decisions have been made in that regard.”