The board supported the layoff of 5 departments full-time and affiliated part-time instructors.
Despite the public comments made the board supported the retrenchment (layoff) proposal. The board then went on to urge faculty to find a way to reverse this decision, either by finding funds, or increasing enrollments.
Faculty have always engaged in recruitment efforts, many attend career days in the community, or host early college experience field trips on campus. To lay this burden at the feet of faculty rather than address the root cause, a faulty registration system, and the need for administrative partnerships is borderline offensive, especially when they just approved the movement of funds away from instructors to support a new marketing director.
However, anyone who visits BMCC campuses knows that faculty are never happier than when they are in the front of a full classroom. When they are in their element, bringing their field to life. It’s not fair to place the burden to “prove the faculties worth” on the faculty who have already stepped up to make courses more engaging and dynamic, to put courses online during a pandemic, to bring those courses back to campus with new flair and active engagement (all while serving on committees, advising students, and engaging in community outreach), but faculty will do it. Because they always have, because faculty stand on the front lines with students, and because faculty stay. The faculty settle down in Pendleton, they raise their kids, future Timberwolves in East Oregon, and they commit to being lifers in this community. Faculty will always put students first, because this is their community too, unlike administrators who even with the best intentions, leave within a few years.
Faculty, even members on the retrenchment list, are offering classes this summer because our students deserve diverse course offerings and choices. It’s not about “us” the faculty… it’s about the students. If you know someone who has been thinking about going back to school and holding off for one reason or another. This is the time to encourage them to invest in their dreams because the faculty at BMCC will invest in them.
The Faculty Association withdrew from the public for a brief time, so as to focus on laying the framework for contesting the faculty layoffs at BMCC through the grievance process, but we continue to advocate for students and robust course offerings here at Blue Mountain Community College.
A recent article in the East Oregonian broke the silence, with the administration claiming those cuts were justified due to decreasing enrollment and the need to pass a balanced budget. However, It is interesting to note that at the same time the retrenchment of faculty was being handed down, several new job postings appeared for a total expense of $250,000, among them a Director of Student Success & Services and a Director of Recruitment & Retention. The faculty are not debating the necessity of a registrar, that is a vital role on the campus. Instead we are concerned about the replacement of Director positions that were determined unnecessary and the precedent that is being set where cuts to executive positions are temporary while those in the classified and faculty are never enough.
President Browning claims we're asking for too much, that faculty already get an average of a 4.5% increase on our step scale. However, those steps apply to less than a 1/3 of the faculty. When inflation is at 9.1%, no cost of living adjustment is the same as a salary reduction.
To say the money would have to come from hikes in taxes or tuition is sensationalist and wrong. BMCC operates on a multimillion-dollar budget, there is money -- they simply moved it out of instruction into other budget line items like furniture, travel, and maintenance, and they could at any time quickly decide to prioritize instruction over marketing, robust and diverse classes over lawyers (which despite the cost, the college hired prior to any discussion or threat of layoffs). Two of those retrenched were the most senior in the department, and the language regarding the process of faculty layoffs is clear. These grievances only seek to uphold the letter of the law, our contract should be followed just like any contract they have with any entity.
OPB coverage further clarified the reasons for the grievances and outlined the process. The faculty take the motto STUDENTS FIRST very seriously, and we want to honor the fact that education and life-changing experiences happen in various courses and in various ways. Some of those instructors laid off generate our highest enrollments in classes or have significantly impacted student success and retention. We want to honor those efforts and preserve them for future timberwolves who will need these experienced and connected mentors and advocates. The faculty association has been trying to resolve these grievances at a local level and remains open to discussion in hopes that we can settle before binding arbitration. We'd like to solve this problem together and are hopeful that recently enlisted mediation could be an avenue to find a way forward together. See the article here.