Eighty tenured professors plan to leave Loyola at the end of the academic year after taking buyouts which have faced criticism from some faculty and students, who fear the program could lower the value of a Loyola education.
At the beginning of the academic year, Loyola offered about 200 tenured faculty members — full-time professors with job security and research requirements — money in return for leaving at the end of the school year, The Phoenix reported. Faculty members who take the buyout will receive two times their annual salary in advance.
The program was offered in order to save money, show appreciation to faculty and to address students changing needs, according to Margaret Callahan, the university’s acting provost and chief academic officer. She said the main reason the buyouts were offered was because faculty asked for them.
In November, 102 professors expressed interest in the buyout, The Phoenix reported. Some of these professors chose to withdraw from the program before they were required to commit to the buyout on Nov. 20.
Anthony Cardoza, a history professor who’s taught at Loyola for 32 years, said he chose to take the buyout because he’s been thinking about retiring for a while and the extra money was “irresistible.” However, he said he has concerns about the buyouts themselves because he thinks they’re motivated entirely by cost-savings.
“There’s no clear intellectual vision behind it,” Cardoza said. “Like a lot of other decisions that have been made in the past couple of years, it seems to be driven exclusively by bottom-line concerns rather than on the basis of what is the mission of the university, what is the intellectual trajectory of the university.”
Loyola initially calculated cost savings “based on the assumption” that about 70 professors would participate in the program, according to a document obtained by The Phoenix. If that number of professors left, the document said Loyola would have saved $6.2 million.
The university expects to save money because the retiring professors’ current salaries are higher than a new professor’s starting salary.
The final cost savings haven’t been calculated yet, according to Sarah Howell, a Loyola spokesperson.
Students and faculty members shared concerns about how the buyouts might affect the university — citing issues with the way the buyouts were introduced and fears about how it might impact the quality of education at Loyola because the new professors hired might be less experienced, The Phoenix reported.
Laura Gawlinski, the chair of Loyola’s classical studies department which is losing two out of its six tenure-track professors due to buyouts, said they have a short-term plan for next year, but the future is “up in the air.”
Specifically, the department’s dual-enrollment high school Latin program — a class where high school students learn Latin and receive college credit — could be at risk because the department might not have enough people to run it, Gawlinksi said.
“Yeah, sure, we’ve got all the classes covered, but we do a lot of stuff outside of classes,” Gawlinksi said. “There just aren’t enough people. Loyola likes to run everything on as tight a margin as possible, where if one little thing goes wrong, there’s just no one to do it.”
Despite these concerns, Callahan said she was confident the quality of education at Loyola won’t suffer due to the buyouts because the administration is already working to replace professors and she’s impressed with the applicants she’s already seen.
In the past, some have criticized the university for focusing on cost savings, arguing the school is run more like a business than a university, including the AAUP which recently wrote a letter stating Loyola’s president is “ill-equipped” to run the university.
Callahan responded to this criticism and said universities are businesses. She said Loyola has to remain conscious of costs in order to make education accessible for more students.
“We absolutely do need to pay attention to our cost, to our structure,” Callahan said. “If that’s likened to just running a business, then so be it, but I think that’s about us being responsible to our students and families.”