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Faculty numbers rise after realignment dip

By Mark Smith
Posted on December 6, 2012 | News | Comments Off on Faculty numbers rise after realignment dip

Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, stood before a packed Hart Auditorium last October, preparing to give some of the worst news to the university in his year-and-a-half as president. Hundreds of faculty and staff members listened intently to his outline of a new budget plan that would cut nearly $10 million from the university’s budget, including the elimination of 10 faculty and 25 staff positions.

“We don’t ever want to be in a situation where we have to eliminate someone’s job,” Schubert said in the meeting. “But it’s impossible to avoid eliminating positions in a budget realignment plan on a $10 million scale.”

Only seven of those 10 faculty members actually left the university in May, and nine more retired. But 13 new faculty members were hired before this semester.

Dr. Robert Rhodes, provost, said some of the changes were planned, and some of the positions became open and needed to be filled.

“Partly it is hiring individuals in critical areas, and partly it is hiring in an area that wasn’t part of the budgetary adjustment and that was always a planned hire,” Rhodes said. “If there are areas where a position is opening up that we know we have other resources, we may leave that as a closed position. But if we know a position is opening that is a critical need or isn’t part of the budget realignment, that would be hired into.”

Job eliminations and reductions in the budget realignment plan would save the university $2.7 million, the largest section of cuts.

Each of the 13 new hires was approved to fit in with the budget plan.

But these faculty members weren’t fired, which is typically the result of poor performance. Rather, the position was removed.

“For these faculty, it was a non-renewal of a contract because the need for the position had changed,” Rhodes said.Two of the faculty members no longer with ACU, Dr. Michael Winegeart and Dr. Foy Mills, left ACU to accept other positions – Winegeart at Lipscomb University and Mills at Sam Houston State. Dr. Billie McConnell left his faculty role to pursue a staff position in a different office within the university.

Five faculty were on annual contracts, which the university chose not to renew.

Schubert announced the voluntary retirement incentive program at the same time of the budget plan. As a part of the cost-cutting plan, the retirement program was offered to tenured faculty 60 years old and older who have served at ACU for 10 consecutive years. Seven faculty members retired at the end of last school year.

Rhodes didn’t have much involvement with the hiring of all the new faculty because he began serving in the position in July. While he did with some, more often he worked alongside them in adjusting to the university.

“Since I was coming in new, I was able to sit in on the new faculty orientation with these new hires because it is my first year too,” Rhodes said. “I got to meet them and hear how they’re being welcomed to ACU.”

Rhodes said after the budget cuts were made, needs arose in other areas,especially in the School of Nursing, which had planned growth. It will move into the Zone Luce Building during the winter break.

“The only new positions were in nursing, which was a planned, budgeted program growth,” Rhodes said. “We also needed to find a new director of the School of Nursing, and Becky Hammack filled that role.”

Rhodes said other faculty were hired because administrators knew they were excellent in their field and available.

“Dr. Kyle Tippens is a great example of that,” Rhodes said. “The College of Business was interested in him while he was a doctoral student at Texas A&M and they kept in touch. A position was coming open for which they thought he’d be a perfect match.”

Tippens, assistant professor of finance, began teaching at ACU without much experience in teaching finance classes.

“I’m used to teaching more Bible classes through church, but this is different,” Tippens said. “There’s a lot more preparation involved than I thought. But so far it’s been really good, I’m glad we’re here.”

When the provost search committee named Rhodes a finalist for the position last spring, it also named Dr. Darryl Tippens, provost at Pepperdine University, as the other finalist. Kyle, ’92 ACU alum, is his son.

Rhodes said the faculty variation, despite coming soon after the budget realignment plan, is standard.

“You’re going to expect to have a certain percentage of fluctuation,” Rhodes said. “We had a little less than 10 percent of turn over among faculty, which is pretty typical.”

Rhodes said the university hired many faculty who he thinks will excel at ACU.

“We have experienced  individuals who have graduated from well-known institutions,” Rhodes said. “They’re exceptional in their fields and they fit our mission very well. I think it’s a great group of faculty joining us.”

Hired Faculty

Dr. Dale Bertram, professor of marriage and family studies

Jennifer Golding, assistant professor of management sciences

Dr. Becky Hammack, associate professor and dean of the School of Nursing

Dr. Andrew Huddleston, assistant professor of teacher education

Kelly Knight, instructor of political science

Megan May, assistant professor of library

Dr. Ron Morgan, professor of history

Dr. Kenneth Olree, associate professor of engineering and physics and director of engineering

Rhonda Pupella, assistant professor in the School of Social Work

Dr. Carson Reed, assistant professor and director of the Doctor of Ministry program, Graduate School of Theology

Dr. Matt Roberson, chair and associate professor in Music

Dr. Marcia Straughn, instructor in the School of Nursing

Dr. Kyle Tippens, assistant professor of finance

Retired Faculty

Dr. Fred Bailey, professor of history

Virginia Bailey, associate professor of library science

Dr. Dave Merrell, professor of English

Dr. Paul Piersall, chair of the Department of Music

Dr. Perry Reeves, professor of chemistry

Dr. Carol Williams, associate provost for online programs and professor of mathematics

Dr. David Wright, associate professor of management sciences

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