EMPORIA (KSNT) – One day after the Kansas Board of Regents approved Emporia State University’s plan to cut 7% of the workforce at the university, terminations began.
Emporia State University President Ken Hush asked the Regents to grant him the authority to “suspend, dismiss, terminate any university employee.’ Hush met with the Kansas Board of Regents on Wednesday in Topeka. At the conclusion of the meeting, the board approved Hush’s authority to do so.
When 27 News asked how many employees would be terminated a representative of the school said she could not comment.
“We can’t right now share how many employees and what programs are affected. We want to ensure that all people who are affected as well as the campus community is notified before we share publicly. Out of deepest respect for our colleagues, we will not comment further at this time,” Director of Media Relations Gwen Larson said.
Although President Hush said earlier this week that the next step will be to notify the impacted staff by Friday, Sept. 16.
Sources inside the university said there have been cuts to the Department of English, modern languages, and journalism.
Professor Max McCoy told 27 News there have been a total of five dismissals from the English department as of 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
“I am deeply concerned about the possibility of this being retaliatory. One has to admit the optics aren’t great. Also, the numbers for journalism, the program I direct (we have a journalism minor and a second teaching field BSE licensure) have been steadily climbing over the past year, so I’m a bit confused as to the rationale,” McCoy told 27 News.
McCoy, an advisor to the Bulletin, the school’s newspaper, said he is “deeply concerned about the future of the newspaper, journalism, and the students.”
In August the Bulletin quoted President Hush after he made controversial comments about the closing of the Butcher Education Center.
Hush told the reporter, “I laugh when I hear that because they’re not understanding the overall high-level concept.”
At the time Larson tried to walk back Hush’s comments, “His comment was more along the lines of ‘I can’t believe that I shake my head, I laugh at that.,’” Larson said. “‘That’ being the implication that we didn’t do due diligence to come to this decision.”
“I brought [Bulletin reporter] Sam in to help interview Erika Martin, the professor and activist, and just also get second opinions and thoughts since I was in that interview and was disappointed by those comments, just so I could bounce them off,” said Noah Eppens, Editor-in-Chief. “And we also talked with our advisor Max McCoy to make sure weren’t saying anything that was ‘out-of-pocket’ or unethical as a journalist.”
“I am concerned about the future of the student newspaper, our journalism program, and the students. I am proud of the work the staff has done under exceedingly trying circumstances and I know they will continue to do this important work for as long as they are able,” McCoy told 27 News.