Return home

Utica University professor tells rally he feels unloved by bosses (VIDEO)

Mike Jaquays
Staff writer
Posted 2/17/23

Recently proposed cuts would lead to sunsetting 15 majors offered at Utica University. See video from the "Rally to Save Utica" hosted by those opposing the cuts, in the article.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Utica University professor tells rally he feels unloved by bosses (VIDEO)


UTICA — Utica University Professor of Communication and Fulbright Scholar Jeff Miller announced Friday he needs some relationship advice.

Miller, speaking before an audience of AAUP union members and their supporters at a “Rally to Save Utica” gathering at the university, said he has been in a relationship since 1997 but is having some troubles with it these days. He is committed for life to that relationship himself, but now wonders if that feeling is reciprocated.

The fights keep getting worse and there is no more kissing to make up.

“I started to think this could be a relationship for life but then I started to notice that even though this was a shared agreement, this was not an equal relationship,” he said. “You seemed to care less and less about me.”

That relationship is with the Utica University administration and board of trustees, who have recently proposed cuts to the curriculum that, if approved, would lead to sunsetting 15 majors currently offered at the university. The rally was held Friday as the board of trustees met on campus to discuss the proposed cuts as one of their agenda items.

AAUP union President and Associate Professor of Philosophy Leonore Fleming, bullhorn in hand, led the charge in rallying, chanting and marching to and from the building where that board meeting was held. Marchers chanted “Hey hey, ho ho, all these cuts have got to go” and “Fee-fi-fo-fum, all your cuts are really dumb” as they walked while carrying their signs and umbrellas.

(See "Rally to Save Utica" footage here.)

“Everyone is in good spirits; we’re passionate but peaceful,” Fleming said. “We want the board to know we are here but without being too disruptive.”

AAUP union members include faculty, librarians and Higher Educational Opportunity Program counselors at the university.

Utica University President Laura Casamento made the recommendations to the university’s board of trustees in January that would call for the end to admitting new students to under-enrolled majors including philosophy, sociology and anthropology, chemistry, geoscience, international studies and Spanish, as well as selections in the health professions, business and justice studies.

She explained that those cuts were proposed because students are no longer enrolling in these majors in significant numbers.

Casamento said Utica University currently offers 59 majors. The 15 total majors recommended to be sunset are enrolled in by only 4.4% of Utica’s current student body. Utica University’s five most highly enrolled majors – nursing, health sciences, cybersecurity, criminal justice, and construction management – account for nearly 60% of our students.

Kelly Adams, vice president for presidential affairs and chief marketing and communications officer, said there are 118 students out of 2,678 enrolled in the majors recommending for sunsetting. Those students themselves would not be affected by any changes, Adams stressed, as “those majors would be fully supported and resourced until the last of those students earn their degree.”

The university also does not expect to lose any instruction personnel if the changes are made.

“The recommendations do not involve any layoffs,” Adams said. “They solely involve majors. Not programs. Not disciplines. Not departments. I cannot stress enough that these terms cannot be used interchangeably; they mean entirely separate things.”

The Board of Trustees issued a statement Friday afternoon explaining it met in regular session both Thursday and Friday to discuss matters including the recommended changes to the university’s portfolio of academic majors. The board said it would finalize its decisions and announce them in a detailed report to students, administration, faculty and staff no later than Friday, Feb. 24.

“The board continues to approach these decisions with the utmost thoughtfulness, care and, most of all, concern for the students and families we serve. We are grateful for everyone who has added input and perspective to this process through a variety of ways,” the statement read.

Miller explained this own main contention with the proposed cuts is the lack of communication from the administration and board of trustees during the process. They are making these proposals without telling facility members why, Miller said, adding that students will pick a university based on the quality of its faculty before the quality of its board of trustees.

“We love what we do and I wish this board of trustees would just show us the kind of trust that I think we deserve,” he said. “The union and the university need to be partners, both sharing for the greater good.”

“We just want to find some hope,” Fleming said.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here