University of West Ga. may cut faculty to fill $3 million revenue gap

A woman walks the campus at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton. The plot of land on the the upper half of this image is where recent archaeological tests suggest slaves from a former plantation might be buried. If true, UWG will be added to a long list of colleges and communities challenged with questions on how to deal with newly discovered remains of former slaves and Reconstruction-era African Americans. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

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The University of West Georgia may not retain some faculty members as part of a plan to fill a $3 million tuition revenue gap, officials said Thursday.

Officials are blaming the gap on an enrollment decline of about 500 undergraduate students this fall. Last fall, the university had about 13,700 students, the seventh-largest enrollment of Georgia’s public universities.

UWG’s initial budget for the current fiscal year, which began July 1, was about $208 million. Officials have sent non-renewal notices to an unspecified number of faculty members. The university’s interim president, Micheal Crafton, has scheduled a campus forum at 2:30 p.m. Monday in its Campus Center ballroom in Carrollton to discuss the situation.

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“A non-renewal notice informs a faculty member they will not be guaranteed a contract for the upcoming year,” Crafton wrote in an email Thursday to UWG employees. “However, we are working diligently to limit the impact of any funding losses on students, faculty and staff.”

UWG had about 590 faculty members last year, according to state data. The average faculty salary last year was about $61,000, state data shows.

Faculty Senate chair Judy Butler said administrators were being “fiscally responsible” concerning the university’s finances and stressed that Crafton said in one recent email there “may” be some faculty non-renewals.

“I believe our administrators have taken many factors into consideration and are being good stewards of the public’s funds,” Butler, a professor in UWG’s College of Education, said via email. “They are also being honest with faculty (including instructors and lecturers) who may not have a guaranteed job next year at UWG.”

Some Georgia colleges and universities over the last year have looked to fill budget gaps focusing on faculty. Savannah State University in November 2018 announced plans to lay off 26 non-tenured faculty members due to an enrollment decline. Morehouse College in Atlanta planned faculty furloughs, but reversed course about two weeks ago to prevent a faculty walkout.

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