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SIU voids faculty contracts

by Darlene J. Taylor

STAFF WRITER

SALEM -- Salem International University officials informed remaining faculty members Wednesday that all contracts will be voided at the end of the academic year, an administrator said Friday.

The faculty members -- about 25 -- received a two-page statement that contracts are null and void 120 days from Jan. 20, said Bruce Edinger, chair of the Faculty Executive Committee. "Clearly, it is unsettling to say the least."

Richard L. Baxter, vice president for university advancement, said the university is exercising a provision in the faculty handbook.

"We will pursue renegotiations on academic programs that we will be developing," Baxter said. "We want to secure the best faculty that we can to meet the needs of the academic programs we will offer both on campus and internationally online."

A layoff of 14 additional staff was announced two weeks ago. Most recently, administrators announced lowering tuition and reducing scholarships, as well as restructuring classes. All of the changes are to give the university better cash flow, SIU President Richard Ferrin has said.

Edinger said there are concerns among faculty that "the model of education at SIU will switch from primarily full-time faculty members to part-time instructors."

Baxter would only say that in the next 30 days a "curriculum planning committee will develop the programs we will continue to offer and those we will add for the next academic year."

"There will be some (positions) that might be eliminated if they don't meet student demand or our personal strength," Baxter said.

Edinger said it's been clear to the faculty that the current administration desired some type of realignment.

"However, the specific realignment has been a long time in coming. Faculty have been little-involved in these plans, which has been a concern," Edinger said.

A university press conference is planned at 2 p.m. Monday.

"We will announce the strategic repositioning of SIU for the future," Baxter said. "We will outline a full array of academics, calendar, international online programs and domestic online programs. We are redeveloping the university to make it more competitive in the future."

Staff writer Darlene J. Taylor can be reached at 626-1403 or by e-mail at dtaylor@exponent-telegram.com