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UNH students rally in support for cut liberal arts lecturers

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent

February 12. 2018 11:00PM




DURHAM — The president of a University of New Hampshire union that represents lecturers said she is overwhelmed by the support students have shown for members who did not have their contracts renewed.

Catherine Moran plans to attend a student-led rally scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday outside Murkland Hall. Last week, the student senate passed a resolution in support of the lecturers, Moran said.

“I’m not an emotional person, but I was moved to tears by the senate hearing,” Moran said. “It’s heartwarming.”

Over winter break, Dean Heidi Bostic sent notices to 18 lecturers in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences telling them their contracts would be terminated.

Mica Stark, assistant vice president for public affairs, said Monday a typographical error led to the contract of one lecturer being extended to May 2019 so 17 employees will be affected at the end of the academic year.

Stark released a statement from UNH.

“These were very difficult decisions. We understand that these decisions affect people’s lives, and in some cases, involve lecturers who have been teaching at UNH for a long time. UNH, like all of public higher education, is under increasing budget pressure every year. At UNH, students and their success are our top priority. That means making decisions that will keep programs competitive and of high quality while also keeping the institution fiscally sound. No academic programs are being eliminated as a result of these non-renewals,” it said.

Stark said declining enrollments and a goal of hiring and retaining faculty whose experiences most closely align with the current and future need of academic programs also went into the decision.

“In some programs, we will be advertising to hire new faculty members who hold terminal degrees,” Stark said.

Stark said UNH police will have a presence in the area during the rally, but they are not expecting any problems.

Cindy Pulkkinen, principal lecturer in the English as a Second Language program, is one of the people affected by the university’s decision. The program caters to international students and lost multiple lecturers.

Pulkkinen has taught Spanish and English at UNH since 1999.

Pulkkinen said last month they have seen a decline in enrollment. She said in 2010, the university contracted a company to recruit international students but last year enrollment numbers began to plummet.

Pulkkinen will be at the rally as well.

“As teachers, we commit to students both inside and outside the classroom. We care about their learning and support them in any way we can. To get that support in return means everything to us,” Pulkkinen said.

UNH junior Eva Ford, of Dover, said Monday she is a double major in communication and philosophy with a minor in Spanish.

Ford’s Spanish professor, Derek Hubbard, is one of the lecturers affected. She is spreading the message about the rally.

“When I thought about how his being cut affects me — and would have affected my experience at UNH had he been cut before my time — I knew I couldn’t possibly be the only one thinking that,” Ford said. “I felt like the least I could do would be to make these cuts — and all of the upset they have caused for so many people — well-known and potentially make it so that making decisions such as these are not easily swept under the rug by administration.”

Students are also circulating an online petition. It has 2,880 signatures and is addressed to the board of trustees, Chancellor Todd Leach, President Mark Huddleston, Provost Nancy Targett and Bostic.

A link to the petition can be found at www.change.org.


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