English department takes hit in recent faculty cuts

The English department faculty tenure tracks are on the guillotine for next year. Graphic illustration by Laurel O'Neill.

By Daniel Jansouzian
Assistant News Editor

The university’s English department has been hardest hit by recent budget cuts, losing four positions as a result of declining university enrollment and less state funding.

Enrollment figures have consistently diminished through the last two years, putting pressure on the university to make cuts somewhere, according to Mark Byrnes, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

The ultimate solution has been to make cuts in temporary full-time faculty, according to Brad Bartel, university provost. The College of Liberal Arts has taken nearly half of the cuts because it employs nearly half of all temporary full-time faculty members.

In addition to enrollment issues, Gov. Bill Haslam recently announced that he had to redo the state budget, allotting less money to higher education due to lower than expected tax revenue.

“It’s a possibility MTSU will not receive the money the government originally had for us,” Bartel said.

According to Byrnes, nine positions were cut in the College of Liberal Arts, including four in the English department, two in history, two in speech and theatre and one in art.

Only general education positions were cut, meaning fewer sections will be available to freshman and sophomore students, Byrnes said.

“We won’t really know the impact until the full enrollment numbers come in,” Byrnes said.

He and his staff may not know those numbers for certain until the middle of this summer.

English faculty speak up

With five courses taught per lecturer, 20 fewer general education sections will be offered. This is the equivalent of 400-500 seats, according to Laura Dubek, director of lower division English.

The likely outcome is that either the sections will no longer be offered or they will be taught by part-time adjunct faculty, said Tom Strawman, chairperson of the English department.

“Adjuncts are often very fine teachers,” Strawman said. “But just as often their financial circumstances, inexperience or second and third jobs interfere with their performance. We have experienced cases in the recent past when adjuncts simply abandon their classes in mid-semester if a better opportunity presents itself.”

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