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University of Michigan cutting lecturer jobs, upsetting union

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

The union representing non-tenure instructors at the University of Michigan is upset that dozens of lecturers are losing their jobs because of budget cuts.

The staff cuts are hitting particularly hard on U of M’s Flint and Dearborn campuses.

U of M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald says the main reasons for the layoffs are declining enrollment and a change in teaching approach. 

“As enrollment declines, there is not as much need for lecturers to teach classes,” says Fitzgerald. “Some schools and colleges also shift more classes to tenure-track professors and that reduces the need for lecturers.”

Fitzgerald says financial uncertainties, related to enrollment and state funding, are a significant factor this year as well.  The U of M system is expected to lose hundreds of millions of dollars because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ian Robinson is the president of the Lecturers’ Employee Organization union. He believes cutting lecturers is the wrong approach.

“This is really, really bad policy,” says Robinson. “It’s shockingly irresponsible of our top leadership to be pursing this kind of austerity agenda when we absolutely have alternatives that are far superior.”

Robinson says Arts and Humanities lecturers in Flint and Dearborn are among the hardest hit by the changes.

Critics say university officials could do more to provide educational options for students by expanding the Go Blue Guarantee program. The program provides tuition assistance, but only to students pursuing undergraduate studies in Ann Arbor.  

The U of M Regents will be discussing next year’s budget plans on Thursday.

The lecturers’ union plans to express their concerns to the regents.

Here are the current plans to lay off lecturers on U of M’s three campuses:

Ann Arbor

Total headcount in March: 1,138

Full Layoffs - 31
Partial Layoffs - 14
Non-Reappointments - 68

Total headcount in March: 272

Full Layoffs - 17
Partial Layoffs - 21
Non-Reappointments - 6

Total headcount in March: 292

Full Layoffs - 37
Partial Layoffs - 63
Non-Reappointments - 20

Editor's note: U of M owns Michigan Radio's license. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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