Speculated Personnel Cuts Leave COD Faculty Concerned

While COD looks for ways to decrease losses due to declining enrollment, a budget committee discussion speculating whether to cut faculty leaves many upset.

Devin Oommen, Staff Writer

Graphic by Zainab Imam

Comments made at COD’s budget committee meeting on Feb. 9 have some faculty concerned about a massive slashing of full-time faculty. Declining enrollment and other factors have left the college with higher expenses than revenue. The idea originated with budget committee member John Colletti, who called for a different distribution of the monetary burden of running the college.

“The only way we’re ever going to make any significant strides is to reduce full-time faculty that are getting benefits, in more alignment with the forecast of decreased enrollment, as opposed to adjuncts which get no benefits and no future pension,” Colletti said. 

The college’s projection is that enrollment will continue to decline 1% to 3% per year until 2025- 2026. To reduce losses, the budget committee outlined $9.2 million in cuts to expenses.

“We’re going to cut adjuncts; we’re going to cut maintenance; we’re going to cut student support; we’re going to cut nine other categories. Yet the one category that’s forced to grow because of the union contract, we don’t touch,” said Colletti.

The college’s projected revenues for fiscal year 2023 general fund spending come from state and federal funding, local property tax revenue and tuition paid by students. Colletti’s remarks came in response to the college implementing a 1% increase in its tax levy on DuPage County to pull in new money to fund operations.  The budget committee outlined a breakdown of the college’s major revenue sources with 54% coming from real estate taxes, 10% coming from the state government, and 35% coming from tuition and fees.

 “The DuPage residents, who are our constituents, are going to be paying 50% more than the person getting the direct benefit from the education. That is unfair,” said Colletti.

Faculty union President David Goldberg said in an interview he and other faculty are worried about the faculty cuts that were speculated in the meeting.

“People are very upset about the way that was portrayed. That we are excess. That there are excess faculty that you can carve off,” said Goldberg.

Goldberg said Colletti’s anti-union comments in the budget meeting were politically motivated.

“My sense is a lot of that budget information in that committee meeting was at the service of someone who is running for office, who has a very unique perspective about how things should go,” Goldberg said. “I would also say these are people that, to my mind, are hostile to public education and people that are hostile to higher education for their own political reasons. So they’re looking for every reason possible to weaken the association, because hating unions is a popular move among some quarters.” 

Goldberg said the budget committee’s discussion was a manufactured crisis, citing that the college has close to $150 million in reserve money that it can use while considering other options of increasing revenues instead of cutting faculty.

“The bottom line is the faculty are the people that bring value to the college. Students are not here for provosts. They’re not here for presidents,” Goldberg said. “We need the help of the great people in the division office that help. We have great deans. We have some really strong people. But at the end of the day, teaching and learning is why the college exists. So starving faculty seems to hurt the core mission of the college.”