‘No faculty layoffs. In fact, we are continuing faculty hiring.’ These words from Boston University President Robert Brown came as a relief to many, but have turned out to be nothing more than outright deceit. The cutting of non-tenured professors by the College of General Studies is a total contradiction of Brown’s assurance in the Jan. 22 town hall meeting that faculty would be spared in the face of a $10 million budget gap.
It’s true that no faculty members were technically laid off, but that does not mean that Brown should get away with exploiting this loophole. Either way,the CGS reduction is violating Brown’s declaration that ‘taking the faculty out of classrooms would decrease offerings we have which would make us less appealing.’ Brown may not have been the one to make this decision, but as president of the university, he is ultimately responsible for the actions of BU’s separate colleges. If CGS is free to cut professors without the protection of tenure at will, then other colleges may do so as well. This would not, as Brown said, ‘maintain the quality of the Boston University education.’
Why CGS officials felt that the important field of natural sciences is less valuable than humanities, social sciences and rhetoric remains to be seen. Regardless, as a result of this cut, all CGS students will be taking an elective in the first semester of their freshmen year. This will cause other colleges to have overcrowded classes, and more professors will need to be hired to remedy the situation. Clearly, this move is counterproductive if BU is interested in saving money.
Brown’s letter to faculty and staff along with the town hall meeting were good ways of showing transparency, but transparency is useless if the whole truth isn’t being told. Promising to preserve the world-class faculty at all costs was a great public relations move, but these words ring hollow after the actions against CGS.
Brown must be held accountable for misleading everyone when he stressed that the faculty had nothing to fear from BU’s financial crisis. Evidently, this is not going to be the case. Both students and faculty at BU deserve a president that does not say one thing and then do another.