Covenant to cut academic faculty

Covenant to cut academic faculty

April 29th, 2009 by Joan Garrett McClane in News

Officials at Covenant College say they plan to increase the investment in their athletic programs while cutting academic faculty positions.

Students have mixed reactions to the plan.

According to a "right-sizing" proposal presented to the Covenant Board of Trustees last month, the small Presbyterian college could cut as many as 10 faculty positions in the next three to five years.

At the same time, the school plans to invest $160,000 per year to hire more junior varsity coaches, said Jeff Hall, vice president for academic affairs at Covenant.

"Athletics is underfunded compared to other institutions, and academics is overfunded," he said.


* 70 - Number of faculty positions at Covenant

* 60 - Number of faculty positions after "right-sizing"

* 1,000 - Number of students at Covenant

* $160,000 - Amount of money to be spent per year on new athletics coaches

Source: Covenant College

Dr. Hall said there are now 15 students per faculty member at the college. After the initiative, the school would have 16 students per faculty member, he said.

There are now 70 full-time instructors on the staff, working on one-, three- and five-year contracts, Dr. Hall said, and officials decided the college of nearly 1,000 students could do with fewer instructors.

"We decided that we had more faculty in different places than we needed," said Dr. Hall. "There is sadness about it, but there is a general appreciation for the need to refocus as well."

Traci Bone, a freshman at Covenant majoring in physical therapy, said she is glad the school plans to invest more money in athletics, which she believes have been sorely overlooked.

Ms. Bone, who came to Covenant on a soccer scholarship, said the school attracts a lot of Christian athletes and could afford to make it more of a focus.

"A lot of the faculty teach two classes, even three, and could afford to teach more classes," she said. "I don't think we need a lot of teachers. We don't have a lot of students."

On the other hand, some students say it is disheartening to see professors leave.

"I think it is kind of sad," said Hannah Murphy, a junior majoring in education. "I think that academics should definitely have a priority over athletics. It is just seems like their priorities are changing. In the past, academics have taken priority."

Although some faculty and students on campus may believe the initiative is a step in the wrong direction, officials say that isn't true.

Niel Nielson, president of Covenant, said the decisions to cut faculty positions and increase some athletic positions were made independent of one another.

"The entire strategic plan is designed to position the college well for the future," he said. "I believe it is artificial to look at it like we are taking money away from academics and putting it into athletics."