MOORHEAD — On Friday, Sept. 4, 24 faculty members at Minnesota State University Moorhead received official layoff notices that will become effective over the next three years, the university said in a written statement.
MSUM faculty were initially told about potential layoffs in April, when the university announced a comprehensive budget plan designed to close a projected budget gap of $6 million in fiscal year 2022.
The statement released by the university Friday said that due to retirements and resignations, the number of planned layoffs had been reduced from 31 to 24.
The university also said Friday that program closure decisions have been finalized and a total of nine programs will be discontinued.
One program, the School Psychology Graduate Program, will be suspended, which means faculty have an opportunity to re-envision the program for possible reinstatement. If the program is reinstated, those faculty will have their layoff notices rescinded.
According to the university, the 149 students in affected programs will be able to graduate with a degree in their program within their expected timeline.
In a written budget update provided to MSUM employees, university President Anne Blackhurst wrote:
“We live in an era that requires virtually every industry to reinvent itself and higher education is no exception. As we continue to reinvent the ways we serve our students, we must continue to align our programs with future workforce needs and align our delivery modes with students' changing expectations. Most importantly, we must demonstrate the creativity, adaptability, and innovation that will ensure our students’ success."
Blackhurst added that despite the decisions announced Friday she was hopeful about the university's future.
"I am also sincerely grateful for and humbled by your commitment to our purpose — to transform the world by transforming lives," Blackhurst added.
Matt Craig, president of the MSUM Faculty Association, said in a written statement Friday that association members were appalled by the administration’s decision to layoff "an unprecedented number of faculty."
Craig said faculty will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of students and that they will push Blackhurst to reverse as many of the announced layoffs as possible before they go into effect.
"We are disappointed that none of the suggestions we made for averting these layoffs were considered," Craig said. "Fewer faculty will mean fewer course offerings and larger classes, substantially changing the nature of an education at MSUM."
In addition to the school psychology program that has been suspended, nine programs now confirmed to have been cut include:
- Advertising (Integrated Advertising and PR still offered)
- Public Relations (Integrated Advertising and PR still offered)
- American Multicultural Studies
- International Studies
- Philosophy BA degree
- Spanish Education
- Theater Arts
- Teaching English as a Second Language (Graduate program only)
MSUM has said the loss of the university's theater arts program would also mean the end of MSUM's long-running summer theater troupe, the Straw Hat Players.
In addition to the 24 faculty member layoffs confirmed Friday, the university previously announced other positions would be reduced as well, including three administrator positions and 20.5 staff positions.
The university said Friday that, as with the faculty cuts, retirements and resignations over the past few months will reduce the number of layoff notices that will ultimately be sent out in other categories.