That’s one way to stave off the higher ed bubble.

Kellie Woodhouse reports at Inside Higher Ed.

‘Bright Future’ Layoffs

After Ashland University on Friday laid off 23 instructors — many of them tenured — and eliminated another nine teaching positions, President Carlos Campos described the future at the financially troubled university as “bright.”

The move is a drastic one. Generally colleges avoid laying off tenured faculty members, and do so only if they’re struggling to pay bills.

Guidelines from the American Association of University Professors implore universities not to lay off tenure-track faculty unless financial exigency — a monetary crisis that threatens the survival of the institution — has been declared, which is not the case with Ashland.

Ashland, a Christian college in Ohio, has experienced financial difficulty in recent years, but enrollment at the school appears steady and the institution had a near $3 million surplus in fiscal 2014. Officials began considering a restructuring of its academic enterprise a year ago. The move has the support of top university administrators and the governing board, but has been derided by most faculty on campus.

A committee of administrators and faculty members has been meeting since then to decide which academic programs to “restructure” — though the layoffs are against AAUP policy, Ashland’s own rules allow for faculty layoffs if an academic unit is undergoing a restructuring. Positions were selected for elimination based in part on perceived student demand and individual productivity.

In all, 32 of roughly 240 full-time faculty positions are being eliminated: nine through attrition and 23 through layoffs. Fourteen tenured faculty were laid off, along with three tenure-track faculty members. The disciplines affected are wide-ranging, from communications to music and computer science to business management.

“On a number of levels this is a serious action …. It’s one of the last steps, if not the last step, that an institution takes,” said Campo, Ashland’s president of two months. “We are describing it as a needed reprioritization for the institution’s long-term thriving.”