Bluffton University News
Mary Jean Johnson retired July 31, 2020, after serving for 19 years as director of Bluffton University’s Musselman Library. She initiated a number of innovations during her time as director, including the Celebrate the Library week-long events series and First Tuesday Forum student research presentations in the library. She sought creative ways to develop library collections and to reimagine library spaces for all Bluffton library users. Beyond her commitment to supporting teaching, learning and research at Bluffton, Mary Jean served as a respected leader and mentor in the Ohio Private Academic Libraries consortium.
Carrie Phillips was appointed interim director of Bluffton University’s Musselman Library as of August 1, 2020. Carrie is a 1999 Bluffton graduate and has served most of her career as Bluffton’s archives and special collections librarian.
–Carrie Phillips, Bluffton University
Case Western Reserve University News
- Gail Reese (Associate Director for Public Engagement and Library Administration) retired on 7/31/2020. Gail had 40 years of service at CWRU.
- Jeffrey Quick (Library Assistant V, Kulas Music Library) retired on 7/31/2020. Jeffrey had 22 years of service at CWRU.
- Christopher Bowen, Library Assistant, Access and Delivery Team, started on August 31st.
–Brian C. Gray, Case Western Reserve University
Register by September 23, 2020 for the ALAO COVID-19 Open Forum
Would you like an opportunity to hear what your colleagues are doing at other Ohio institutions to deal with the pandemic? Would you like to share about the challenges and opportunities you’re facing this semester?
If so, please feel free to join us for an informal COVID-19 Open Forum!
September 25th at 3:00pm
Register here by September 23rd: https://forms.gle/L927wxV4t8di3LnB6
We’ll do some polling to see what attendees are doing on their campuses, and we’ll have some time to share and problem-solve in small groups. This is also a chance to see each other and connect a little bit! Feel free to attend with child, pet, snack, and/or beverage in tow!
The University of Akron News
On July 15th, 2020, 178 University of Akron (UA) employees were informed that they were being permanently dismissed as part of a reduction in force (RIF). Terminated RIF faculty included 37 Associate Professors, 30 Full Professors, and 3 Distinguished Professors, all tenured, as well as 26 Non-tenure Track positions. The University of Akron faculty are represented by Akron-AAUP, the university chapter of the American Association of University Professors. UA’s President Gary Miller and the trustees justified terminating faculty as the only way to address the financial shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Four full-time, tenured librarians are on the RIF list. It is important to note that no one on the RIF list was terminated for cause. In fact, the criteria used to eliminate these faculty is still, in large part, a mystery. These positions were eliminated without regard for seniority, tenure, or achievement.
The University of Akron considers itself to be a research university. For the University Libraries, the result of the RIF is diminished subject expertise, with potential adverse effects on student success, curricular support, and information literacy. Currently, there are two Science librarians and two Humanities/Social Sciences left to assist a student body of close to 20,000. In fact, the enrollment numbers are a point of controversy in these layoffs, as the administration initiated the reduction in force in part because of an anticipated drop in enrollment of 20%. Although no official numbers have been released yet, the UA administration has admitted that the actual drop this Fall is closer to 7%. Despite this seemingly good news, UA insists that proceeding as planned with the massive layoffs is prudent. Another reason given for the mass layoffs is that UA is “overinvested in instruction,” a term used by Miller several times in public communiques.
In early August, faculty at UA voted down a proposed contract and rejected the RIF list. Now the future of the RIF list faculty will be decided by binding arbitration. The arbitration focuses on whether the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is reason enough for the University of Akron to invoke the force majeure clause in the Akron-AAUP contract. Force majeure is an unexpected and disastrous occurrence which creates exigent circumstances. The invocation of this clause is what has thus far allowed the UA administration to eliminate so many positions so abruptly. The arbitrator is scheduled to deliver a decision on September 18th.
–-Lori Fielding and Mike Tosko with additional reporting by Ian McCullough and Sue Ramlo, The University of Akron
Wittenberg University News
- Doug Lehman retired on 8/31/20 after 15 years of service as Director of Thomas Library at Wittenberg University. The staff of Thomas Library hopes he is able to resume touring American ball parks and attending concerts soon!
- Kristen Peters was appointed Interim Library Director of Thomas Library at Wittenberg University as of 9/1/20.
–Kristen Peters, Wittenberg University