PUC chancellor: 12 faculty to retire, 7 laid off

2013-08-08T19:30:00Z 2014-03-04T16:10:08Z PUC chancellor: 12 faculty to retire, 7 laid offCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | Purdue University Chancellor Thomas Keon announced Thursday that 12 faculty would take a retirement incentive package, seven would be laid off and the review process will continue with more cuts expected.

In addition, Keon said more students enrolled for the fall semester than expected and Purdue officials are negotiating with a company that will lease the Purdue Academic Learning Center in Merrillville.

The group also wants to buy the building, but that may not happen immediately, Keon said. While Purdue officials declined to release the company's name, they said once the building is sold that would help erase the university's $4 million deficit this year.

Keon said the retirement incentive offer and layoffs were introduced in response to continued enrollment declines, with emphasis in targeted academic areas in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences; the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics; the Department of Chemistry and Physics; and the Department of Construction Science and Organizational Leadership.

The layoffs include tenure-track faculty and staff. Purdue Calumet has about 250 tenured and tenure-track faculty. Tenure-track faculty are considered assistant professors. Those assistant professors are required to receive notice in a timely manner, and all of them will continue to teach for a year or two, depending on their contracts.

The retirement offer is available through Aug. 11 to qualified faculty.

Terms of the offer include: a one-time payout equal to the individual’s current academic year base salary in lieu of continued employment during the 2013-14 academic year; $5,000 a year for three years to offset retirement costs; and an opportunity, based on need, to teach one class during each of the fall and spring semesters at the adjunct faculty rate.

Keon said the university has cash reserves and will be able to continue for this 2013-14 school year. He said the plans are being put in place for the following year and the future.

Keon drew laughter when he said, "The good news is that I'm an accountant and the bad news is that I'm an accountant."

Keon also said Purdue Calumet was operating under a "false" sense of security in the past. He said the university made no investment in its student data and enrollment management systems.

The information was put in manually, and officials did not spend the money for a scanning system. That will be corrected, Keon said. The university must be able to process admissions much faster, he said.

At the same time that cuts are being made across the board, Keon said there will be some new hires.

The university will put more money into its website to attract students and compete with universities across the state. Keon said expanding the athletic program also has helped the university attract students, and the College of Education and the College of Nursing both continue to grow.

"We're going through enormous change," Keon told the crowd. "While we are going through this pain, we'll take the corrective steps and be a better institution."

Associate Professor of English Zenobia Mistri said she thought Keon did a fantastic job of explaining everything in a logical, rational manner. She said he carefully explained the situation and responded to questions and she has "great faith" in his plans.

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