Rock Valley College Trustee Chairman Patrick Murphy addressed RVC students after the college announced plans to lay off 28 instructors.
“This is not the only option, it was the last option,” said Murphy said. “All the other options had already been tried,” he added to a room full of concerned students on Thursday.
The decisions were made as the school is dealing with a $1.6 million budget deficit. Students are worried this could lead to programs being cut. They also question if the college can function without its faculty members.
“It’s very concerning that we have a really strong nursing program and now, no professors to teach it,” said student Theresa Paradiso. Paradiso is currently going through RVC’s nursing program and she thinks the layoffs will have a ripple effect on the community.
“A lot of people come here and then end up staying in the area and working at area hospitals,” she said. “Which is also a concern because you cut this program and you cut our faculty, you’re also cutting the workers that can possibly go to our local hospitals and take care of you and your family,” she added.
Some students even questioned the timing of the cuts. “You’re building new buildings with new classrooms,” said student Jacob Von-Huben. “We already have more classrooms than we have professors, and reducing staff and adding new classrooms to that formula is just going to make that situation worse,” he added.
“A lot of this is a contractual obligation and a state law,” said Murphy. “We have to give a 60 day notice, it comes down to seniority as well,” he added.
Murphy tried to assure students that RVC will function like normal. Still, students say the situation is anything but.
“In best case scenario. they could bring some of the those professors back, but at the same time your putting 28 people’s lives on hold,” Von-Huben said. “Those 28 people have no idea whether or not they will be able to feed their children, (or) get health care,” he added.
“You know, this is an emotional decision,” said Murphy. “It’s an emotional time for the college, for everyone on campus and in the community as well. There were a lot of families affected,” he added. “The biggest goal is to get back on track and continue with our core mission for the student,” he said.
The cuts will take affect on June 30th, but Murphy told Eyewitness News that the college hopes to have those instructors back when the budget is under control.