MU faculty worry buyout program could gut some departments

8 months 1 week 4 days ago Sunday, December 09 2018 Dec 9, 2018 Sunday, December 09, 2018 11:47:00 AM CST December 09, 2018 in News
By: The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY (AP) — University of Missouri faculty members are raising concerns that the system's move to offer buyouts to its senior professors could leave some academic departments gutted.

The university system recently notified full-time and tenured faculty members over 62 of an option to receive a payout of 1.5 times their annual salary, up to $200,000, beginning Sept. 1, 2019. Eligible faculty at the Kansas City, Columbia, Rolla and St. Louis campuses must have worked in the system at least five years.

University system spokesman Christian Basi told the Kansas City Star that the buyout program will save money, allow for more raises and serve as a way to "thank senior faculty for their contributions to the university."

But Gary Ebersole, a longtime history professor at the Kansas City campus, expressed little confidence in the buyout program.

"This is the third such buyout in the 23 years I have been at UMKC," Ebersole said. "In the last go-round, the entire math and statistics department at UMKC took early retirement, and a few months before the new school year, the university had to scramble to offer math and statistics courses."

He said that the university ended up having to hire many of the same faculty members back.

UMKC officials said they couldn't confirm a time dating back to 1984 when the math and statistics department was without any full-time faculty.

Law professor Ben Trachtenberg said that the university's last buyout program "worked better in some departments than in others."

"There is no reason that something like this can't work," Trachtenberg said. "Ultimately it comes down to how the administration deals with the decisions that people make."

The buyout could present an opportunity for campuses to add diversity to their faculty, said Professor Clark Peters, chair of the university's faculty council.

"While we probably lose some wonderfully experienced faculty, I think there is a sense that bringing in young energy and young scholars is a good thing. They can bring a lot to the table," Peters said.

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