UNI cuts would be 'unprecedented,' faculty leaders say

All-faculty meeting slated for Friday; never happened in school's history

The Curris Business Building at the University of Northern Iowa on Thursday, June 23, 2011, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
The Curris Business Building at the University of Northern Iowa on Thursday, June 23, 2011, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

University of Northern Iowa officials are preparing to make cuts that would eliminate undergraduate degrees in fields such as physics, geography, religion, philosophy and the teaching of English as a second language, faculty leaders said Thursday.

UNI officials are on the verge of proposing "unprecedented program cuts and faculty layoffs" that would be breathtaking in scope, leaders with United Faculty, the bargaining group that represents UNI faculty, said Thursday.

"If allowed to stand, UNI will no longer be the university that has benefited so many Iowans over the years," Cathy DeSoto, United Faculty president, said in a statement.

UNI President Ben Allen has not officially detailed the proposed academic program cuts, which are expected to be announced next week, but the administration has been meeting with faculty leaders about the plans.

Dozens of degree categories and multiple faculty positions are slated for elimination, United Faculty leaders said Thursday.

UNI faculty will gather Friday afternoon for an all-faculty meeting, a rare occurrence spurred by a faculty petition, as allowed by the Faculty Constitution.

"This has never happened before at UNI," UNI Faculty Chair James Jurgenson said.

The Faculty Constitution allows for a meeting of all faculty to be called, via faculty petition with at least 30 signatures, Jurgenson, a professor of biology, said. A petition with the needed signatures was submitted to him Tuesday, he said.

The petition reads "We need to discuss the current crisis. Cuts that threaten the educational mission of UNI are being carried out with no faculty input."

State regents this week approved UNI's plan to close the Malcolm Price Lab School on campus. Allen also has proposed closing the UNI Museum building, reducing general fund support to athletics and is considering outsourcing the UNI police.

UNI has lost about $24 million to state budget cuts in recent years, but the university remains in strong financial condition, United Faculty leaders said."There is no budgetary crisis at UNI; there is a priority crisis," the leaders said in their statement. "The administration is not committed to the core academic mission, and there are simply too many administrators making too much money."

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