Art and geology faculty searches suspended for the moment


via Jacob Greenia

As Northern Vermont University scrambles to fill vacancies while working around a difficult budget, some road bumps have come up. “We’re trying to address a challenging budget,” says Nolan Atkins, provost of both NVU campuses. “And these budget issues are not unique to NVU; Castleton and VTC are also experiencing some budget troubles. We’re all dealing with them the best we can.”

Due to its rapidly changing environment, the Vermont State Colleges System is struggling to keep up with certain fiscal and staffing adjustments. “This budget is challenging because enrollment has declined,” says Atkins. “So, revenues are lower than expenses.” Vermont’s rapidly declining and aging population has caused problems for schools that once relied on in-state enrollment.

“Each institution creates their budget, and then it is engaged system-wide,” says Atkins. “At NVU, President Mills is responsible for the budget. He has worked closely with his team, which includes Roy Brock, to make this decision.” Brock is the Dean of Administration for both of NVU’s campuses.

“One strategy is to either leave vacancies open, or to pull back on current searches,” says Atkins. At the start of the Spring 2022 semester, six searches were active for new faculty members, some of which were for vacancies, and others of which for replacements of faculty that are leaving at the end of the semester.

“We decided to move four searches forward, and the two that were pulled back were art and geology,” says Atkins. “All searches are critical, but if we pulled the business, early and secondary education, and animation illustration searches, it would be impactful for students and their programs. For art and geology, we could get by for one year without them. Budget pending, I am fully committed to reinitiating the searches in the fall.”

Students can expect to not see much of a change in their classes aside from a different professor teaching the courses. “The programs will continue as is, but some courses that were meant to be taken over by the new faculty member will just be covered by part-time faculty in the meantime,” says Atkins. “There will be no impact from the student perspective whatsoever.” All courses will still be available to those who need them.

Atkins acknowledges that this situation is not ideal for anybody involved. “We don’t like doing this, it’s not something we do routinely,” says Atkins. “But it has been done before when necessary.” Nolan is confident that this decision is in the best interests of both students and faculty, despite the uncertainty of the semesters to come.

“In late summer or early fall, based on the budget, faculty searches will be launched to meet critical needs,” says Atkins. As we more closely approach the full consolidation of Vermont State University, more staffing and course changes are expected to occur.