Group reviews Keuka College reductions
KEUKA PARK--Keuka College has been notified the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is investigating the college, as well as six other institutions across the country on their response to the global pandemic as it relates to academic governance. Keuka College does not have an AAUP chapter, nor does it have a relationship with the organization.
While Keuka College electively follows many AAUP guidelines with respect to continuous tenure and a host of other issues, a projected $7 million (17 percent) pandemic-induced budgetary shortfall necessitated several difficult decisions in advance of the 2020-21 academic year. Among them: the board of trustees voted to suspend certain policies and procedures that align with AAUP guidelines, including the college's typical process for closing academic programs and eliminating positions held by professors with continuous tenure.
"Following AAUP guidelines during this unprecedented time would have stymied the college's ability to respond to the financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Keuka Board of Trustees Chair Aqua Y. Porter in a prepared statement.
Ultimately, Porter said, the college could not afford to spend the nearly $1.3 million that following AAUP guidelines would have cost the institution without jeopardizing its solvency. The college's board of trustees voted to close six undersubscribed academic programs -- two of which the faculty voted to close prior to the pandemic -- and six athletic programs during its June 2020 meeting.
"It would be the ultimate dereliction of duty for this administration to risk institutional closure and the devastating impact that action would have on its faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the surrounding community by exhausting our scant financial resources to strictly follow AAUP guidelines during these unprecedented times," said Keuka College President Amy Storey in a statement.
A decision to participate in the investigation has yet to be made, with Storey saying the college would need to consider whether participating in the investigation is something they want to do.
"We would need to seriously discuss whether participating in this investigation by the AAUP, a third-party organization that has no formal relationship with Keuka College, would be a mission-driven use of institutional time and resources," said Storey.
Along with the closure of athletic and academic programs, salaried employees face scheduled furloughs and an 8 percent reduction in salary for the coming academic year.
"While this academic year promises to be challenging for all of us, Keuka College has overcome many tumultuous times in its 130-year history," added Storey.