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BGSU faculty protest job cuts

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BOWLING GREEN, OH (Toledo News Now) -

United as one, faculty at Bowling Green State University joined together in protest Wednesday at noon.

The "March on McFall" rally was in response to the university's announcing on January 16, stating that 100 faculty positions will be cut this fall.

According to Director of Communications Andy Shocket, administrators said the majority of the cuts will come from retirees.

Shocket said, he doesn't believe that's possible. "There are usually about 40 retirees, which means 60 faculty members will lose their jobs," said Shocket.

Al Gonzalez, a professor in the communications, said faculty members have not had a fair say in the decision.

"I don't think we've gotten good explanations for the cuts that have been made, said Gonzalez. "I know that there are faculty members who have been here for a number of years who have been terminated, so it's not just first-year educators."

Gonzalez is a professor in the communications department, who has worked with BGSU for nearly 20 years.

Professors, retirees and student supporters marched from the second floor of the Bowen-Thompson Student Union to McFall Center.

Organizers hand delivered a petition with more than 5,200 signatures against the proposed faculty cuts.

Professors say they have the second lowest pay for universities in the state of Ohio.

They say the lower salaries make finding qualified faculty members and retaining them more difficult, so a cut in staffing will put an even bigger workload on the educators currently employed.

"People are worried that our classes are going to get bigger," said Ann Mitchell, an Ethnic Studies professor.

"Right now we offer a really good education, because we have much smaller classes than some of the bigger universities in Ohio," said Mitchell.

Protest organizers spoke to the crowd of nearly 300, saying it is disheartening to see the administration making cuts that are not across the board.

They say the university continues to use funding towards programs such as athletics, and the faculty usually takes the brunt of the budget cuts.

"The core mission of the university is education. [Administrators] should be sitting down with the faculty to make sure together we are coming up with a plan to meet the needs of students," said Jolie Sheffer, an assistant professor of English.

A small group of protestors went inside McFall Center to present their petition to President Dr. Mary Ellen Mazey.

Following the march, the university released an official statement:

"Bowling Green State University anticipates that the majority of the faculty reductions announced by the University will come from retirements and other voluntary departures. The remaining reductions will be determined after the University negotiates the effects of this reduction with the Faculty Association.

The BGSU administration continues to negotiate in good faith with the BGSU Faculty Association for our first collective bargaining agreement with the goal of reaching a mutually beneficial contract. Negotiations have now moved to fact-finding. In keeping with our commitment to the Faculty Association to negotiate at the bargaining table, and not in the media, BGSU will not be commenting further on either the faculty reductions or contract negotiations."

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