Temple U. To Cut Education Faculty by 50%
Nearly half the faculty members of the Temple University College of Education--one of the largest research and teacher-training institutions in the country--are scheduled to be given layoff notices this month as a result of the university administration's decision to cut the college's budget by 40 percent over the next three years.
The action by the Temple administration is the latest in a series of major reorganizations and retrenchments that have taken place at leading schools and colleges of education, including Michigan State University and the University of California at Berkeley, over the past several months.
In addition, Duke University closed its department of education last fall. And the University of Michigan is considering a dramatic reduction in the size of its school of education.
At Temple, the college of education's 180-member faculty is scheduled to be reduced by 48 percent by September 1983, as a result of an order handed down on March 1 by the university to reduce the college's $7.4-million 1981-82 budget to $4.5 million by the 1984-85 school year.
The 40-percent cut in the education school's budget is twice that of any of the other 16 divisions at Temple, which is undergoing a major retrenchment because of declining enrollment, increased general expenses, including energy costs and faculty salaries, inflation, and a decrease in state aid, according to a university spokesman.
The university's overall budget is to be reduced from $89.7 million this year to $76.5 million in 1984-85, he said.
According to Roderick A. Hilsinger, a professor of urban education and member of an ad hoc group of education faculty members who have organized to fight the cuts, the loss of nearly half of its faculty will ''devastate" the college of education.
"Take the department of urban education," he said, "We have 136 Ph.D. candidates and our teaching faculty is being cut from 6 to 2. How can two people supervise 136 dissertations?"
Mr. Hilsinger and others also pointed out that, because the dean of the college of education chose to cut the faculty on the basis of seniority, only professors who were on the faculty before 1969 will remain, leaving an almost completely tenured faculty with an average age of over 50.
Such a situation would impede the college's efforts to work closely with school districts in the Philadelphia area, Mr. Hilsinger said. "There is nothing in the reward system that says the old-timers have to do anything but sit in their offices. It is the younger faculty that gets out into the vineyards," he added.
However, John L. Rumpf, vice-president and dean of faculties, said that the faculty of the college of education is "underutilized" and that the cutbacks are intended, in part, to reduce what he called "a proliferation of departments and programs."
"It's very simple. We are trying to bring the budget [of the college of education] in line with the level of activity [of the faculty]," he said. "During times of affluence, this college proliferated all over the place."
Mr. Rumpf cited a drop in enrollment, from 5,346 in 1976 to 3,084 in 1981, as a principal reason for the administration's decision to cut the college's budget.
But he added that other criteria, including teaching loads, the perceived quality of the work done by faculty, and income to the university, were considered in cutting the budgets of the university's 16 divisions.
James M. Shea, a university vice president, said "great care is being taken to ensure that nothing that is essential to the mission of the university is cut."
The education faculty group counters, however, that the college of education generates more tuition for Temple than all but two of the university's other divisions, and that it is the leading "producer" of graduate credits at the 32,000-student university. Vice President Rumpf said these figures were generally accurate.
According to Philadelphia school-district statistics over 25 percent of Philadelphia's 12,000 teachers have degrees from Temple.
The dramatic changes at Temple and other major education schools, observers say, illustrate the troubled condition of teacher-training programs around the country.
Deans of schools of education say that, on one hand, they are increasingly being held accountable by state legislatures and education officials for what much of the American public perceives as widespread incompetence among classroom teachers.
At the same time, they say, they are suffering on their own campuses from low prestige and dramatic declines in enrollment. Most education-school officials feel they are receiving fewer resources, just when they are under increasing pressure to upgrade the quality of their programs.