The Teachers College faculty rejected the 2013-14 budget proposed by the college's administration Thursday, in a strong rebuke to TC President Susan Fuhrman's management of the perennially cash-strapped school.
Nearly all of the 103 TC professors who attended a faculty meeting Thursday voted to express their disapproval of the budget. Of the faculty that voted, 101 voted in favor of a resolution to reject the proposed budged, one voted in opposition of the resolution, and one abstained from voting. The vote came after TC's Faculty Executive Committee discovered that top administrators have been giving themselves bonuses from the college's 2011-12 budget surplus.
"The faculty are extremely concerned that recent decisions about the distribution of our institutional resources do not reflect the central mission of Teachers College," the resolution read.
"No one knew to ask about surpluses before," executive committee chair Steven Dubin said. "It turns out that there's no oversight on that whatsoever."
According to TC's 990 form—a standard tax-exemption form detailing the financial activity of a nonprofit—Fuhrman received the largest bonus, $90,000. Vice President for Finance and Administration Harvey Spector received the second largest amount, $50,000, followed by Provost and Dean of the College Thomas James who received $35,000. All TC senior staff members received a bonus, with the overall bonuses totaling $315,500.
According to a letter that administrators recently distributed to faculty, TC also plans to cut 10 administrative positions and 10 academic staff positions in the next academic year. The administration's proposed budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year also includes a tuition hike of 4.5 percent, which would translate to $1,344 per point. The school has been raising the cost of attendance for the past five years, which has sparked widespread concern among students and faculty.
"No one's stepped back to see the long-term impact of this," Dubin said. "Soon, there are going to be diminishing returns" as fewer students are able to afford Teachers College, Dubin said.
Teachers College spokesperson James Gardner said in a statement that administrators "look forward to working with them over the next few months to address their concerns and suggestions."
Gardner noted that the proposed budget and resolution will be submitted to the TC board of trustees for reveiw, and also said that TC plans to eliminate 10 administrative and 10 academic staff positions in the next academic year. He added that these positions, some of which are already vacant, will be vacant by the end of August 2014.
Prompted by the faculty's opposition to the bonuses, Andrea Lira, a doctorate student in TC, engaged with other students in a conversation about the state of the college, which focused on disparities in funding for master's and doctorate students, an allegedly declining quality of education, and what students consider to be a concerning partnership between Fuhrman and Pearson PLC, the largest for-profit education company.
Students showed their support for the faculty's decision to oppose the proposed budget, lining the hallways leading to the conference room and holding signs in support of the faculty's decision.
"It was stunning," Dubin said of the students, who greeted the faculty with applause and chants. "Faculty was very impressed—there's a lot of energy right now."
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