this bit of fuckery: the new president of Rider University, who took office August 1, just eliminated 12 to 14 (depending on how you count) departments or programs, and is turning three other majors into minors. Sources close to yr correspondent additionally say (no confirmation available) that:
- these cuts came in the wake of the new president running up against the faculty union's objections to his plan to freeze salaries, on the not-unreasonable grounds that they still had two years left on their most recent contract that he had to honor;
- that some of the strongest voices in the union were also members of cut or demoted departments;
- that the faculty smelled Something Rotten, but were never part of the discussions (other than the above-noted insistence that their current contract must be honored), and were thus completely blindsided by the speed and scope when the news came down Thursday morning.
Dell'Omo (Rider's spankin'-new president) has pitched this as a move to save a university on the verge of financial collapse. Certainly, Rider was operating on the financial edge. But the sense was that things were starting to turn around. Of course, "the sense" of faculty is often governed by the presence/absence and/or quality of refreshments at the faculty meeting and other things that are just as likely to be the result of good department-level management as overall health of the institution. So there may indeed have been need for drastic action.
But I've still got two questions:
1. Does a person who has been on campus for less than three months already know enough -- that is, can s/he have played out all other scenarios and exhausted all the other options -- in order to justify cutting over a dozen departments?
2. More to the point: Can a four-year school that has eliminated departments and programs in art and art history, advertising, American studies, business education, French, geosciences, German, marine science, philosophy, piano [at a school that was, after its merger with Westminster Choir College, sort of known for its conservatory-like program in music performance], web design, and Economics (BA; the BS is still there) really claim to have "saved" anything?
 Though I suppose that Rider faculty should be grateful that it's not as bad as one headline had it: "Rider University cutting 13 majors, eliminating 14 professors"... giving new and gruesome meaning to "getting the axe," I suppose.