Professors protest Hawkeye layoffs - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Professors protest Hawkeye layoffs

WATERLOO (KWWL) - Some Hawkeye Community College professors are speaking out about budget cuts.

They're upset the school has terminated the contracts of 43 professors on the Waterloo campus.

Friday, they met to see if they have any legal recourse against the school.

Several dozen faculty members met with attorneys from the Iowa State Education Association.

They wouldn't tell us exactly what was discussed but one thing's for sure, those professors are upset.

Mike O'Connor has been a social sciences professor for the last 15 years at Hawkeye.

This summer, he'll have to turn in his key and clean out his office.

"The college's decision to terminate me is probably going to cost me my residence. I will no longer afford my mortgage payments. I'll probably have to move," said O'Connor.

School officials say the cuts are tough but budget reductions forced their hand.

The professors had to be notified now because otherwise their contract would automatically renew.

Administrators say faculty and staff have been aware that cuts could be made soon.

Hawkeye's Vice President of Institutional Advancement Kathy Flynn said, "the school's president has been in meetings and sent e-mails on campus even before christmas, before we knew of the 1.5% cut."

Still, the professors say it's a pill they won't swallow.

Friday afternoon, the group met behind closed doors for two hours with legal counsel from ISEA.

"With the unions behind us and organizing us we think we'll ultimately be reinstated. The problem is it could take up to a year and many of the people can't hold on for a year," said mathematics professor Jim Ralston.

Mike O'Connor says he sure can't.

"I don't think the college considered the impact it's gonna have on 44 lives and I think that's not good business practices," said O'Connor.

The terminations are for 33 regular part-time instructors and 10 full-time instructors.

Administrators say the restructuring will move more full-time faculty out of administrative duties and into the classroom.

They also say maintaining integrity of classroom instruction is critical to Hawkeye's mission.

School officials still don't know what Hawkeye's budget will be next year.

That depends on the legislature but community colleges across the state are expected to lose a significant amount of funding.

Online Reporter:  Bob Waters

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