ANDERSON – Anderson University has a net gain of one faculty member for the 2020-21 school year following the annual realignment of staff.
John S. Pistole, president of the private Christian university associated with the Church of God-Anderson, wouldn’t reveal the names of the five faculty members whose contracts will not be renewed or the disciplines in which they worked.
“I want to respect their privacy and want to leave it to them to spread that news,” he said. “For all five, the Provost Dr. Marie Morris and I would do a recommendation for. They are all capable professors.”
However, Pistole said six new faculty members will be hired in growing disciplines, including nursing, cybersecurity and dance.
“I would say we’re doing a strategic pivot, here. If we don’t do this, we aren’t relevant for today’s students,” he said. “It’s nothing personal about the professors. It’s about the business of running AU. It’s part of the normal ebb and flow of what majors are growing. As in any business, it comes down to what products are popular.”
No academic, athletic or extracurricular programs will be cut because of the realignment, Pistole said.
The university is required to notify faculty by Nov. 1 when their contracts are not going to be renewed for the following school year.
The university also made some position cuts among non-academic staff, mostly through attrition.
Pistole said he sympathizes with the students and staff who have built relationships.
“If you’re a student and your favorite instructor is not returning, that’s disappointing,” he said.
Pistole said the realignment is necessary, in part, because of declining enrollments. He said about 79% of private colleges and universities nationwide have reported declining enrollments over the past several years.
At AU, he said, that’s due because of perceptions about the cost of private education, not offering a specific major sought by some students or a disconnect with the student experience there following visits to campus. Universities also are experiencing a decline in enrollment because of a renewed emphasis on the trades in high schools, he said.
But AU continues to evolve in the way it serves students by offering online classes, through a renewed emphasis on adult studies and maintaining the traditional residential experience, Pistole said.
“We believe we offer an outstanding educational experience,” he said.