Rider University Avoids Eliminating Philosophy Major

At the end of October it was reported that Rider University would be slashing 20 jobs and 13 majors—including philosophy. However, now that the university and the school’s chapter of the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) have come to a new agreement, these cuts will be avoided entirely. A statement from Rider University’s communications office, forwarded to me by Philosophy Department chair Robert Good, states:

Rider University and the Rider University Chapter of the AAUP have reached agreement on a series of changes that will achieve the financial savings the University sought, and the preservation of academic programs and faculty jobs the AAUP was seeking.  These changes were approved by the AAUP Chapter membership and the University’s Board of Trustees. They include:
  • Withdrawal of the University’s invocation of layoff under Article XV, including the changes to majors, minors and departments and full and part-time faculty layoffs.
  • Institution of a two year-faculty wage freeze, for the current academic year and the next year that begins on September 1, 2016, in lieu of the contractual raises of 2.0% and 2.4%, respectively.
  • Creation of additional faculty retirement incentives for faculty electing to retire at the end of the current academic year, and the potential for additional incentives in the 2016-2017 academic year.  Faculty who elect phased retirement can complete their full phase-out period.
  • Elimination of a contractual formula that generally required hiring full-time faculty to fill vacated lines in departments. 
  • Increase to the proportion of courses that may be taught by full time faculty (as overloads) or by adjunct faculty.
The positive financial impacts of the changes are substantial and provide the University greater flexibility in managing instructional costs.  More importantly, the withdrawal of the layoff plan creates a climate in which collaboration on Rider’s important longer term priorities such as strategic planning, development of new program offerings, recruitment and retention initiatives and ongoing evaluation of all academic programs can be accomplished successfully. 
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Sara L. Uckelman
8 years ago

“Elimination of a contractual formula that generally required hiring full-time faculty to fill vacated lines in departments”

So….the program has been saved, but will now be taught by poorly-paid adjuncts instead of full-time faculty (if not right away then at least over time as the retirements come into play and the retirees are not replaced)? This doesn’t actually sound all that promising to me.

Derek Bowman
Derek Bowman
Reply to  Sara L. Uckelman
8 years ago

Agreed. This is good news (or, at any rate, better news) for Rider’s current philosophy faculty, but it doesn’t make this story any better news for the profession as a whole. In fact, given that current faculty are being offered incentives for early retirement, it seems the hope is to make the transition to contingent faculty sooner rather than later. Given the precarity of their jobs, it might make sense for some current tenure-track faculty to accept early retirement, then return as adjuncts.