DICKINSON, N.D. (KXNET) — Nearly a half dozen tenured professors at Dickinson State University will be losing their jobs.
Earlier in the year, the university’s president recently announced plans to make cuts on campus as a cost-cutting measure — and that also includes doing away with several academic programs.
DSU’s enrollment this fall is around 1,453 students, which is around 20 fewer students compared to last fall.
The University’s mission, it states, is to provide high-quality, accessible programs, promote excellence in teaching and learning, and support scholarly and creative activities.
University President Stephen Easton sat down with Reporter Samantha Sayler to discuss the recently announced changes to the university.
“We’ve been going through a process that actually started on August 8th and 9th,” explained Easton, “when I sent an email starting that process of looking at the possibility of what we call ‘retrenchment’ in higher education — which means the possibility of elimination of programs and discontinuation of faculty position. That process has taken place under the Board of Higher Education’s policies, and so we followed the policies or the procedures outlined by the faculty senate. They were not the administration’s procedures, they were the faculty senate’s procedures. Our focus was on low-enrollment programs. We need to listen to our student’s voices. Our students tell us what programs they are most interested in by pursuing majors in those programs.”
He says those currently enrolled in the discontinued programs will get the chance to finish them out, but no new students will be accepted — and that of the 44 students in the seven discontinued majors, 20 of them are seniors. Easton says they’re working with the other 24 to create ‘teach-out’ plans so they can continue on their career paths.
However, it isn’t just students who are affected by these changes. Associate Professor of Communications Eric Grabowsky, says that he’ll be resigning from the university as a result of them.
“In my point of view,” explained Grabowsky, “in terms of the process overall, President Easton has followed all of the letter, but not the spirit of the policy both in terms of the state and campus policies in terms of adequate reflections that go into some pretty heavy decisions about the future — not only for the programs but for the university. One has to keep in mind not only retrenchment but also reorganization decisions. All of that has a sort of a range of implications. Obviously, many folks are concerned, not only about the present but the future. “
Earlier this year, state legislators narrowly rejected House Bill 1446, a proposal that would’ve given President Easton more authority to fire tenured professors at the university.
Under current state policy, however, tenured professors can’t be fired unless they’re found to be incompetent or dishonest.
Investigation into this story is ongoing. KX News will provide updates on future developments as they come.