Staff Editorial: Loyola is Pinching Pennies and Misplacing Priorities

Isabella Falsetti | The PhoenixLoyola bans university travel to China after Chicago health officials confirm second case of coronavirus in the city.

At the end of this semester, 80 long-time and well-loved Loyola professors from a number of schools will bid farewell to campus, leaving behind tenures of 10 years or more and holes which will be extremely difficult to fill.

This fall, about 200 tenured faculty members 60 years or older who have worked at Loyola for more than 10 years were offered a sum of money if they retired at the end of this academic year. Tenured professors are full-time professors with job security and research requirements. 

As professors climb the ladder and spend more time at Loyola, their salaries increase, costing the university a sizable amount of money. Through this program, Loyola will be able to hire new professors at a lower cost.

While we fully support and respect some faculty members’ needs to retire, this plan — dubbed the Tenured Faculty Voluntary Transition Incentive Plan — makes it feel like they’re being pushed out. 

Loyola has once again proved itself to run more like a corporation and less like a university where students can thrive. President Jo Ann Rooney’s administration continues to cut corners and hurt what makes Loyola such a special place.

Soon enough, Loyola may no longer be the Loyola we know it to be.

Loyola’s administration is stripping the school of its authenticity by getting rid of these long-time educators — all to save a buck. These professors have seen the evolution of their fields and have an expertise that simply can’t be matched by younger, newer educators.

According to documents obtained by The Phoenix, some programs — including environmental science, healthcare administration, public service careers and business data analytics — will be prioritized during the two-year hiring process. This could leave some schools high and dry, overworking the remaining professors.

The university calculated cost savings “based on the assumption” about 70 professors would participate in the program, saving the school about $6.2 million. The final savings are still unknown.

What’s more is Loyola’s administration dove head-first into this program without much of a plan for how to rehire the professors who retire, potentially leaving lots of uncertainty within some departments.

Administrators previously told The Phoenix the university has to be careful about costs to make education accessible for more students. In only paying attention to the numbers, however, it’s jeopardizing its basic purpose and mission in what it advertises as a high quality education. 

Not to mention that education at Loyola isn’t becoming more accessible, as higher-ups at the university claim. It’s actually becoming more expensive with tuition increases, including a 3.3 percent increase for this academic year. It doesn’t seem to add up.

Professors are the foundation of any university. They’re on the front lines and can help students make connections and get jobs — especially graduate students who look to tenured professors for research opportunities and help writing dissertations.

Some have taught for decades at the university and shown dedication that’s difficult for new professors to develop. Many have influenced lives with their unique and “old-school” approaches to teaching.

The university argues that one of the reasons for the buyouts is that student needs are changing. While older professors may not be as adaptable with new technology, they know Loyola better than most and have spent years working on their craft.

Administrators also said the program was created to show appreciation for faculty. However, some of the language used in the original emails about the buyouts seemed like a slap in the face to tenured professors. An email from Loyola’s administration sent to faculty said the program was designed to take “proactive steps to help ensure our continued standing as a first-class, student-focused university.” 

From the moment we start at Loyola, we’re told we’re supposed to “Go forth and set the world on fire.” If the university keeps pinching pennies instead of prioritizing students, it’s hard to do that.

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