University of Maryland online college restructuring leaves teachers in limbo – Non Profit News
October 24, 2019; Chronicle of higher education
A third of all university students now take at least one online course. At a time of declining enrollment nationwide, online learning is one of the few growth areas in higher education. While it’s only been a few decades for computer-based courses, distance learning — once called correspondence courses — is as old as the mail. Today, one of the largest online education providers, focused on adult learners and veterans, is restructuring, which in turn threatens the faculty.
University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), which was known as University College of the University of Maryland before July 1st of this year, informed more than 100 employees that their current contract will end on January 4and. If they wish, they can reapply.
Speaking about the transition, Peter Smith, the campus’ acting academic director, told the Chronicle of higher education, “Anyway, it’s going to be tough. It’s a fat change. But you can’t do it gradually.
Smith believes they need to change to prepare for the needs of employers and adult students in 21st century. “Most colleges are waiting to be really in the soup,” Smith added. “We’re not even close to the soup.”
the University of Maryland Global Campus is one of the few public or nonprofit schools specifically structured for working adults rather than high school 18-year-olds. (Another is the 50-year-old Empire State College at the State University of New York.) Founded in 1947 as a branch of the University of Maryland’s College of Special and Continuing Studies, it was the first university to send professors to military posts in Europe. The school serves tens of thousands of people and there seem to be growing pains.
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The teaching changes stem from the replacement of undergraduate and graduate schools with three new discipline-focused schools – the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, and the School of Cyber Security and Technology. information. Academic classes and programs will not be eliminated – they will be absorbed into the new discipline-led schools – but teaching contracts in undergraduate and graduate schools will be terminated, as these schools will disappear next year .
Teachers had until October 10and to apply, either for the same job in the new school, or for different positions. There will be at least 25 additional teaching slots. The majority of instructors are auxiliaries, most with annual salaries under their contracts.
The administration is also facing a reorganization. Bob Ludwig, assistant vice president for media relations, said 27 program chairs will also be removed to eliminate redundancy. Javier Miyares, president of the college, said faculty members would be added in some disciplines, some job descriptions would change and some positions would be cut.
“I assure you that our goal is always to treat our colleagues with respect and dignity,” says Miyares. There will be paid time off, depending on length of employment, for those who do not apply or are not rehired.
The college is stretching and a professor says it has grown from a small “mom-and-pop” to a giant for-profit model. Middle School considered scrapping public university status five years ago, they argued, in order to have greater flexibility with partnerships, as with software publishers. They must compete with private online schools for students at a time when higher education enrollment has plummeted almost everywhere.
Traditional professors are understandably concerned that teaching methods follow money, which can erode higher education as a whole. Although the story of UMGC appears to be one of employees scared for their jobs as an employer restructures, it may be a microcosm of global changes in higher education.—Marian Conway