Last semester, five of Eastern’s staff members found themselves without a job after a restructuring of core administrative offices.
Some of these prominent people were Mike Reagle and Claire Good, the associate vice president for campus life and the associate vice president for student success, respectively. Students in some of the master’s degree programs knew Reagle and Good well as they taught classes here, influencing the next generation of campus leaders.
Scott Cason, the vice president of marketing and communications, said the process was intended to be as expeditious as possible, taking just a few weeks between announcing the restructuring to the staff and announcing who would be placed in various positions across campus.
However, Thanksgiving break fell right between the two announcements, and while the university was closed, staff were left waiting to hear whether they would indeed have a job to come back to. That, or if the rest of the fall semester would be focused on finding another place to work or another role to serve at the university.
There is a proper timing for everything in the life of a university. Athletics schedules are announced far in advance in order to drum up hype and attract the largest crowds at games. The recent rebranding initiative, including changing logos on the university’s pedestrian walkway and replacing floor mats inside buildings, has been a long, drawn out process.
Yet why did this restructuring and firing process seem so sudden, swift and decisive? We’re not arguing with the administration’s ability to create its own staff to benefit the university, but these announcements truly blindsided the five that lost their jobs.
The argument could also be made that it was only five administrators who lost their jobs, but there was not much of a transition period before other staff accepted the challenges that came with new roles, being only a few weeks before and after the winter break.
It was not that long ago when President Whitlock and his administration led the university through a budget reallocation. The university community knew it was coming; it was a reality that the faculty did not want to face. But we succeeded through the trial because people had enough expertise and advanced notice to plan for it.
Next time the university needs to change critical staff members, and ultimately decide to fire the leaders of administrative departments, how about a little more advanced notice?