Education

Henderson faculty to soon learn fate

By The Arkadelphian

Citing a “substantially misaligned” ratio of instructor cost to a shrinking pool of students, Henderson State University’s Financial Exigency Committee is eyeing the school’s professors in its next round of financial decisions.

The school operated at a loss of $13.7 million in the 2020-2021 academic school year, Chancellor Chuck Ambrose pointed out in an April 20 letter to the Henderson community.

All instructional programs across the university have been operating at a loss, an “unsustainable” practice and why the School with a Heart struggled financially despite receiving state and federal funding, Ambrose said.

“We cannot grow our way out of this challenge,” he added. “Our only choice is to reduce instructional costs.”

Ambrose

During the year Ambrose cited, instructors’ salaries and benefits made up 70 percent of the total academic costs, with tenured and tenure-lined faculty comprising the bulk of that total, 75 percent.

Total credit hours students enrolled in and completed, meanwhile, took a campus-wide dip, falling “roughly” 9 percent each year since 2019, according to Ambrose.

What it boils down to, he explained, is the university is teaching fewer students while maintaining a “substantially misaligned” base of instructor cost.

In explaining the situation, a digital dashboard was created to provide more insight.

Henderson, Ambrose said, “must reduce instructional positions.”

The Financial Exigency Committee is slated to submit its recommendations to the chancellor by April 27, then he and a senior leadership team will also make recommendations to the Arkansas State University System Board of Trustees.

A board meeting is likely to be scheduled during the first week of May.

“Our next steps are difficult, but necessary,” Ambrose said.

5 replies »

  1. Apparently, the exigency committee have been told which pet programs they can’t “touch.” This makes a sham of the whole exercise.

    • Agree. And…not informing students, faculty, and staff of who will go and who will stay is placing a huge amount of stress on everyone!!!!!

    • Yes!! The people responsible for this mess are not being held accountable, and the faculty are taking the fall. I also think being turned over to ASU was a mistake. They’ve never had Henderson’s best interest at heart!

  2. Being taught by tenured, or tenure track faculty is what sets a university apart from a community college. A university should not be run like a fast food restaurant, relying on part time, low investment teachers, here today and gone tomorrow. IF the tuition expected had been *collected* (not the professors job) from the students, IF we had not built 2 (unneeded) dorms (against the will of the faculty), IF administration had not refused to allow adjunct faculty hires after 2019we would not be so reliant on tenured faculty, would we be in this situation? Blaming faculty on being the greatest expense? Ridiculous—of course we are! We are a university, not a 4-year babysitter.

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