UMKC may be losing some of its most senior faculty members this year.
Announced earlier this year, the entire UM system has offered tenured faculty members over the age of 62 a contract buyout. According to these metrics, this plan could impact 112 members at UMKC.
Faculty members had to indicate their interest in the buyout, which would pay them one-and-a-half times their salary, back in March, and decisions were finalized by May 5.
This plan comes as the latest in a series of attempts to cut costs at the UM system. However, some faculty believe it is a change for the worse.
UMKC history professor Gary Ebersole has been skeptical of such programs in the past.
Ebersole recalls a buyout that occurred over 10 years ago that resulted in the entire math department leaving, only for UMKC to have to rehire some members during the summer.
Ebersole feels similarly about this buyout program. He believes this method of trying to cut costs is “quick and dirty,” serving only as a bandaid on a larger issue.
Ebersole noted that 5 out of 15 faculty members in the history department are likely to take the buyout, shrinking the department by a third. To account for this departure, the history department will receive one non-tenure track faculty member.
Ebersole points to this as a prime example of the problem with the buyout.
“It is not to improve the quality of education, it is so that they [UMKC] have cheap labor,” says Ebersole. Ebersole notes these drastic changes to faculty mean the history department will no longer have anyone specializing in non-western history, and the doctoral program is likely to disappear.
Among the laundry list of problems Ebersole has with the program, including how long it will take the university to recuperate the amount it spends, he does note the issue is largely the fault of the state legislature, which has repeatedly cut funding for higher education.
While the final count of faculty members taking the buyout has not yet been announced, it seems likely many faculty will take it. How this will impact the 2019 academic year remains to be seen.