UF responded to budget cuts by reducing tenured positions


University of Florida President Bernie Machen is shown outside Tigert Hall on campus along SW 13th Street in Gainesville on Tuesday, June 11.

Erica Brough/Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, June 28, 2013 at 5:39 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 28, 2013 at 5:39 p.m.

During a five-year period when the state cut the University of Florida’s funding by $230 million, the university cut full-time tenure and tenure track faculty by 9.4 percent and increased part-time and non-tenure faculty by 9.8 percent.

Enlarge

University of Florida President Bernie Machen is shown outside Tigert Hall on campus along SW 13th Street in Gainesville on Tuesday, June 11.

Erica Brough/Gainesville Sun

Facts

FACULTY CHANGES AT UF

Full-time tenure and tenure track
2007 2,780 2011 2,519 -261 (-9.4 percent)

Non-tenure and part-time faculty
2007 2,387 2011 2,621 +234 (+9.8 percent)

Executive/Administrative
2007 427 2011 669 +242 (+56.7 percent)

At the same time, the number of executive and administrative positions grew by almost 57 percent, a statistic Tigert Hall said is distorted by a reclassification of people already in existing positions.

Statewide, the university system saw a 20.8 percent growth in administration and a 5.7 percent drop in full-time faculty during that period.

The statistics were incorporated in a Florida Trend report showing a marked increase in administrative positions and costs over declining faculty positions and costs, which UF President Bernie Machen last week called “bogus” before a Florida Board of Regents meeting.

According to data submitted by UF to the Florida Board of Governors for its annual accountability reports, the number of executive and administrative employees grew by 242 people from 2007 to 2011.

The biggest jump was from 448 in 2009 to 626 in 2010, due to a reclassification of 186 assistant directors who had not been counted as executive and administrative staff in prior years, said Janine Sikes, UF’s assistant vice president for media relations and public affairs.

Prompted by a federal audit, UF was directed to reclassify those positions, but their titles and responsibilities remained the same, she said.

“They were not counted at all prior to 2010,” Sikes said. “They were not new hires.”

Sikes could not explain how they were classified prior to 2010.

“It doesn’t matter what label they put on them, it’s what they do that matters,” said John Biro, president of the UF chapter of the United Faculty of Florida.

Total full-time staff at UF dropped from 13,022 to 12,682 from 2007 to 2011, including a 7.2 percent decrease of 267 positions in the “other professional” category.

During the same period, full-time tenure and tenure-track faculty numbers dropped by 261 positions, while the number of non-tenure track and part-time positions rose by 234 positions, mirroring a trend seen among other public universities in Florida and nationally.

UF reduced faculty through layoffs, early retirements and freezing vacant positions.

“Any time they can, they’ll replace some with security and tenure with someone they can fire at will,” Biro said. “There is a national trend to change the composition of faculty from long-term, protected faculty to what is commonly labeled as contingency faculty.”

Short-term, adjunct or contingency faculty are not protected by collective bargaining, have few if any benefits, no guarantee of academic freedom and are paid less to teach larger classrooms, Biro said.

Since 2004, the number of full-time administrative positions has grown about four times as fast as full-time faculty positions, and administrative salaries have grown about a third faster than their faculty counterparts, said Sartaj Sahni, a distinguished professor in the CISE department at the College of Engineering.

“While the financial crisis interrupted the growth in faculty … pay, administrative pay continued to grow quickly and unabated,” Sahni said.

The increase of part-timers has helped to keep the student-teacher ratio from increasing, and it actually dropped from 21.7 to 20.5 students per teacher, the Board of Governors accountability report shows. The statewide student-teacher ratio increased from 23.9 to 25.1, the report shows.

“Our strategy was to have the least amount of impact on classrooms as possible, and also during this period of time we did reduce the enrollment,” Sikes said.

Colleges and departments were forced to do their best to cover classes where they could, she said. Where they couldn’t hire full-time professors, they went to other options that were cheaper — such as part-time and non-tenured faculty.

“We went to cheaper part-time people to help ensure that class size was not impacted, and we were still able to offer what we could for students to limit the impact on the classroom experience,” she said.

With the Legislature’s restoration of $300 million in statewide higher education spending cuts and another $300 million-plus in new money, UF is starting to rebuild its faculty.

Machen and his administrative team have made a commitment to use the new money they’re getting from the state to recruit top faculty over the next five years. The Legislature has appropriated $15 million a year for UF to pursue academic and research goals.

Machen said he will double that amount with private donations to recruit the best faculty and establish new chairs in key departments and colleges.

“You can see what has happened to our faculty, and the president has made it very clear that is what we are trying to beef back up,” Sikes said.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top