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UNH rally protests lecturer layoffs; school official explains cuts

Sunday News Correspondent

February 17. 2018 11:45PM
Emilie Viennet and French lecturer Anna Sandstrom listen during a rally at the University of New Hampshire Feb. 16, 2018. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Sunday News Correspondent)

DURHAM - About 200 people gathered outside Murkland Hall at the University of New Hampshire last Friday to support College of Liberal Arts lecturers whose contracts were not renewed.

Chanting, "Lecturers are Wildcats, too," and "Say it loud, say it clear, lecturers are welcome here," the crowd held signs protesting the administration's decision to let the 17 faculty members go.

Dean Heidi Bostic sent letters to those affected, letting them know their employment will end in May.

UNH Junior Eva Ford of Dover, a rally organizer, said quality educators are being sacrificed due to poor budget management and chasing objectives like improving the school's standing on U.S. News and World Reports' college rankings.

"While they claim these were extremely difficult decisions to make, they fail to acknowledge that there are always alternatives to making cuts. There are many other models besides the one this administration has adopted," Ford said.

UNH officials have repeatedly said no academic programs are being eliminated and in some instances, the university will hire new faculty who hold terminal degrees.

Sarah Batterson, a history lecturer who holds a PhD from UNH and who is one of the 17 affected lecturers, said, "Many of us who were cut do hold terminal degrees, and the ones who do not, hold master's degrees. More importantly, they were not made aware that a terminal degree was necessary, even having taught for years and years," Batterson told the crowd.

UNH Provost Nancy Targett, meeting with the media last Friday, said the university shifts resources to meet student demand every year.

Targett reiterated that no programs will be shut down.

Targett said letters were sent to lecturers' homes because their union told administrators to talk with union officials, not with members.

Catherine Moran, president of UNH Lecturers United, said the union did ask administrators to communicate with it instead of discussing non-renewal processes directly with faculty, but "we did not agree that once nonrenewal decisions had been made that the Provost's office or the dean's office could not communicate with members."

The affected lecturers teach French, Spanish, Arabic, ESL, English, history and political science.

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