Gibbs told CNA that while the school's administration and Academic Senate understands that job elimination is a sensitive issue, nearly all of the eliminations of the faculty positions have been made through voluntary terminations and buyouts, and that the involuntary termination of tenured faculty had thus far been avoided.
"They're wrapping up a few loose ends and finalizing a few things," Gibbs said, but "it's virtually done" and has all happened through voluntary means.
Dr. John Grabowski, associate professor of moral theology and ethics and a member of the Academic Senate at CUA, told CNA that while he understood the Faculty Assembly's initial concerns over tenured positions, he believed those concerns should be allayed by the revised final edition of the proposal.
"I feel like I can see both sides," he said, since he is a faculty member that was part of the Academic Senate involved in deliberation over the plan.
"But I can also see the concern generated among the faculty, because as it was initially described, it seemed like it was going to willy-nilly terminate faculty in certain units, whether they were adjunct, contract or tenured faculty, so that in many people's minds set off alarm bells that the university is arbitrarily firing tenured faculty," he said.
"I don't think that was the intention" of the administration, he added, and after hearing the concerns of faculty, students and the broader CUA community regarding tenured positions, "a lot of the ambiguities of that language was cleared up."
"By the time the Academic Senate approved the proposal, we were told that the provost was eliminating 35 faculty positions, and he had gotten to about 31 or 32 through voluntary retirement or severance. People were not being willy-nilly terminated, and he was confident that he could get the number he needed to make it work financially without having to involuntarily terminate any tenured faculty," he said. "So in other words, we don't even need to go there."
Dr. Chad Pecknold, associate professor of systematic theology at CUA, told CNA that while he received the electronic poll from the Faculty Assembly, he chose not to participate in it since they are not an officially recognized group.
He added that he "strongly supported" the Academic Renewal proposal, especially after he felt that his concerns about tenure were heard.
"I serve on the Committee for Faculty Economic Welfare, and helped draft my only concern which was to safeguard tenure," he said. "Once the Provost clarified that tenure would not be harmed, the proposal passed the Academic Senate by a wide margin."
Grabowski said that he responded to the electronic poll that he had confidence in the provost and the president, though he said he experience technical difficulties with the link and is unsure if his vote was cast.
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Furthermore, he said he was not sure if the faculty assembly was "sufficiently cognizant" of numerous efforts made by administration and the Academic Senate to consult faculty across the campus throughout the creation of the Academic Renewal proposal, during which may students and faculty did weight in to express their concerns.
"I think their concerns were heard and registered and the proposal that was put forward was heavily amended, and I think we ended up with a position that brought the two sides a lot closer together than when they started out," he said.
The Faculty Assembly told CNA in an email that even if the plan were to be approved and proceed without the firing of tenured faculty, the proposal process "highlighted multiple serious deficiencies in the leadership of the Provost and the President" and that their concerns "extend well beyond this proposal to issues broadly and deeply related to leadership and direction of the university."
They said they planned to hold a meeting with the board and the Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly in order to relay their concerns "related to the future of shared governance, financial management, executive performance and compensation, and still other serious issues."
Gibbs told CNA the group declined an opportunity to meet with the Board of Trustees on June 4, one day before the board's vote on the proposal.
A related group of concerned faculty, students and alumni called "Save The Catholic University of America" (or Save Catholic) recently started a website to express their lack of confidence in CUA leadership and to call for change.