33 Emporia faculty terminated, WSU faculty responds at town hall


Thy Vo

Faculty Senate President Susan Castro speaks to the Faculty Senate on Sept. 19 during the town hall meeting held in light of the recent terminations at Emporia State University.

Emporia State has terminated 33 faculty members since Thursday, following the Kansas Board of Regent’s unanimous approval of ESU’s “Framework for Workforce Management” plan.  

The plan draws upon a KBOR policy that allows the termination of tenured faculty at state universities in Kansas. KBOR established this policy in January 2021 as a COVID-19 response. It was supposed to end in July but was extended until December 2022.

“Basically, what this policy allows universities to do is to exercise actions that normally would only be allowed under financial exigency without actually being all the way to financial exigency,” Susan Castro, Faculty Senate president, said during a town hall meeting.

Before KBOR’s unanimous decision to pass the ESU plan, the Wichita State Faculty Senate passed a resolution – a brief paragraph supporting the ESU faculty facing termination. 

“We could have made it a longer, stronger statement but quite honestly, I don’t think anything would have mattered,” Castro said. “It was decided before the Board of Regents meeting, probably before Emporia made the announcement (of the plan).”

ESU administration’s actions have and continue to receive backlash from faculty, students and staff. Concerns have been raised that the plans implemented at Emporia could come to Wichita State or other institutions.

The Sunflower asked to speak with President Richard Muma in light of the situation. In response, Lainie Mazzullo, director of news and media relations, sent a statement attributed to Muma.

“Wichita State does not plan to utilize this temporary policy,” the statement said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has forced institutions across the country to rethink how they do business: financially, programmatically and operationally. Wichita State is no exception. We have had to make our own difficult, strategic decisions to navigate these uncharted waters, such as voluntary retirements, previous hiring freezes, restrictions on discretionary spending, etc., but through the hard work, dedication and sacrifice of our campus community, we have been successful in raising revenue while reducing costs to preserve the policies and past practices of our institution.”

Monday afternoon, the Faculty Senate met for a town hall in light of the recent developments at Emporia State. The time gave faculty time to express their concerns and views. 

“We are deeply divided right now; lots of Kansas, including our own institution, are on both sides politically,” Castro said.

The Faculty Senate will meet again on Sept. 26 for a regular meeting, where they have discussed taking action in response to ESU.