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Universities are cutting faculties and blaming Covid

In May 2020, University of Vermont President Suresh Garimella released an update on the school's finances. Citing the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Garimella presented a grim prognosis of lower enrollment, higher costs, and stagnant tuition rates that require reductions in wages, benefits, and staff. In December 2020, the dean of UVM's College of Arts and Sciences, William Falls, followed up with his recommendation to finish with 12 majors, 11 minors and four master's programs, to close a deficit of $ 8.6 million. But Helen Scott, an English teacher at UVM, points out that school administrators have alternatives to such "draconian measures".

"As the president put it in his 2020 financial report, 'UVM's financial condition is strong' and the university's net position had increased by $ 24 million," says Scott, citing the annual financial report of the University of Vermont. Report. "A $ 34 million fund has not been touched for 'hard days.' Therefore, the administration has fabricated a so-called budget deficit at the university, allowing them to argue that CAS is not sustainable. "

The University of Vermont is just one of many schools whose faculties accuse to administrators of using Covid-19 as a false justification for attempts to push for long-sought budget cuts, even after receiving millions of dollars in pandemic-related aid from the federal government. Authorities are now rallying their communities to oppose it. the cuts, which they fear will further impoverish educators and students


Universities across the country have proposed or instituted cuts since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, despite receiving significant federal aid. Aside from the cuts mentioned above at the University of Vermont, the faculty and staff at the University Salem State ad in Massachusetts were subject to licensing weeks; two full colleges of William Paterson University in New Jersey were consolidated; and 41 tenured or tenured professors at the College of Saint Rose in New York were fired. According to figures reported by the federal government, all schools received millions of dollars in aid from Covid: UVM received $ 12 million, Salem State $ 14 million, William Paterson $ 22 million, and the College of Saint Rose $ 5 million.

Barbara Madeloni, a facilitator for the Public Higher Education Workers, a network that supports organizing among college workers, attributes the persistence of cuts despite funding to a much longer-term project of transforming higher education into a targeted industry. by contingent debt of teachers and students, instead of a public good financed with taxes.

"We've been underfunding and subfunding public higher education for a couple of decades," Madeloni says, referring to state and federal funding. “This was a problem before the pandemic, and the pandemic crisis has been a place where there are universities that are stepping in and trying to take advantage of that and, in doing so, change the nature of what it means to be a public university – to have access complete for all students, have a broad, deep and liberating education – and instead limit the purposes and possibilities of public higher education to exercise a kind of system based on the market and the merchandise in it, instead of keeping it as an essential public good for democracy ”.

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