VTC lays off eight full-time faculty


Rutland Herald

VTC President Dan Smith

Citing an enrollment drop and declining state funding, Vermont Technical College President Dan Smith announced several full-time VTC faculty will receive layoff notices. In addition, 27 adjunct professors may not be hired back come fall.

Smith made the announcement at a regular monthly meeting of faculty on Nov. 20. In a letter to faculty released Dec. 1, Smith wrote, “By virtue of its inattention to public higher education, the state has now put at risk the very programs it claims to need. I am committed to seeing both of these things change, and welcome your help in that effort.”

At the time of this publication, eight faculty members have received layoff notices, five tenured and three non-.  These layoffs follow layoffs for six non-instructional staff in April, at which point the VTC also received an administrative pay freeze and a new early retirement cash incentive.

Smith’s announcement singled out several departments in which layoffs will occur: English, humanities, social science, electrical engineering, civil engineering, architectural engineering, landscape design and horticulture, math and science.

“In certain programs, the layoff of full-time faculty will result in a program closure,” Smith said.

Equine studies, civil engineering technology and diesel power technology have been placed on a “financial watch,” while landscape design and horticulture will see layoffs depending on spring enrollment.

VTC students will be asked to take certain core classes at other Vermont State College institutions: Castleton State, Johnson State, Lyndon State or Community College of Vermont.

In the 2013-2014 school year, VTC employed 85 full-time faculty and 104 part-time.

In the next academic year, VTC faces a $2.5 million budget gap.

“Even as we approach those decisions, we retain and will fulfill an obligation to serve students who have enrolled in those programs by getting them to their degrees,” Smith said.

In an interview with Vt. Digger, Tim Donovan, the outgoing chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges, predicted the first effect of these layoffs would be larger class sizes. Donovan compared state funding for higher education in 1985 – about $7.78 for every $1,000 per capita income – to state funding today: about $3.33 for every $1,000 per capita income, despite inflation.
Regarding the VTC cutbacks, he said: “This is what happens.”

The state of Vermont has one of the highest national percentages of graduating high school students – and one of the lowest national percentages of high school graduates who go on to attend college.

The VTC layoffs won’t take effect until Aug. 1, 2015.

“A lot can change from now to then, but I need to give notice now,” Smith said. “I worry about the enrollment, but this in large part is a product of what I view as an inadvertent state policy of disengaging in higher ed.”

The early retirement offers expire Jan. 5, 2015.