GREENSBORO, N.C. — More budget cuts for Guilford College have students and faculty speaking out in an attempt to save jobs and preserve the history of the school.
University officials are planning to get rid of majors like math, political science, physics and modern languages to name a few. It has some questioning how it can continue as a liberal arts college
Fifteen tenured professors and five others are being let go from Guilford College as part $7 million in budget cuts to the 2021-2022 school year.
Interim Guilford College President Carol Moore said the enrollment numbers aren’t there when it comes to the select majors.
“The fact that enrollment has declined and the college has not made the parallel reduction in expenses,” Moore said. “They will be taught at the school as subjects, but not as full majors.”
For physics major Connor Potts, she’s pleading with the university not to slash majors like hers. She said if it weren’t for the professors at Guilford, she may not have had the confidence to major in physics and minor in math.
“Not all these people are using these classes to major in. A lot of these people are using these classes to enrich their own knowledge or enrich their own majors in some sort of way,” Potts said.
Administrators are hoping to replace them with other majors that are more popular
“Nationally, liberal arts majors are not in demand. We’ll be looking very carefully as to how we add those majors,” Moore said.
Moore said the college will continue to have some emphasis on liberal arts, just at a different capacity.
By getting rid of these liberal arts majors, it has some saying the school is losing the values it was built on.
“If they don’t want to uphold Quaker values then that’s not what Guilford is and we won’t stay — we won’t stay for this,” said Haydyn Foulke, a junior community and justice major.
Foulke said if the school decides to go through with getting rid of some of majors like hers, she’ll transfer.
“If the things that make Guilford great — all the values that I care about are gone and they don’t do something to reinstate that, I will not be here. Because the Guilford that I came to is gone,” she said.
She doesn’t feel the administration gave students a voice in the decision-making process. That’s why she, as well as fellow students and alumni joined the “Save Guilford College” Facebook group. The group is trying to raise money and use their voice in an attempt to stop save these departments
“Removing these core parts of what people know of when they’re going to get an education from Guilford is going to make it really challenging to continue the same kind of community that we all know,” said Tenaja Henson, a Guilford College alumnus.
Professors who’ve been notified they will be let go as a result of cuts are reacting too.
“It’s insulting to think that I’ve been here for 14 years,” history professor Damon Akins said.
Akins dedicated the past 14 years to Guilford College all for it to be summed up in what he describes as brief email.
“’The department which you teach has been slated for elimination,’” he said.
He and 20 other professors who teach some of those majors have been notified this will be their last year.
“The majors that we have reviewed for potential phase out are majors that students have not chosen to enroll in. So, we feel that it’s time for those to be phased out and look towards other majors that will be more attractive to today’s students,” Moore said.
Those students who are already on track to major in these subjects will continue their education here.
But how does a college with an emphasis in liberal arts convince students with those interests to still come here?
“I don’t know how I’m supposed to recruit new, high-achieving students to the honors program if half the majors on this campus have been cut. I don’t know how to market a school that doesn’t have enough integrity to support its own community in the midst of the pandemic,” said Heather Hayton, director of Guilford College Honors Program.
Moore said budget cuts are always tough and that she understands faculty and students are upset.
“People have worked very hard and given their career to the college. It’s a very painful process,” she said.
For Akins, he now faces an appeal process to try and save his job. He’s awaiting next steps on how to go about it.
“I don’t actually know what criteria was used to determine [why] I particularly was fired,” he said. “Without knowing that I don’t know how to appeal, but I will appeal because it’s important to me.”
There have been no details released on severance packages for professors. But Akins said he does have concerns about integrity of that process.
The board of trustees will meet to review individual appeals for professors in February.
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