With entering freshmen and returning students set to arrive on the Parkland campus of Pacific Lutheran University over Labor Day weekend, there remains much uncertainty among faculty and administrators for what will be available academically in the future.

PLU announced today that its Faculty Joint Committee, which has been studying since last December possible changes in how the school faces the future, is making provisional recommendations to eliminate up to 31 faculty positions, including tenured and tenure-track positions, as well as contingent faculty.

In some cases, recent faculty retirements that were not refilled may “count” as a part of any necessary reduction. In other cases, faculty may remain in their positions through this school year and the next.

“Because this is not a response to a crisis, but rather a strategic response to the changing higher education landscape,” a PLU response clarified, “we can roll out changes on our timeline, in accordance with our Faculty Handbook.”

“We understand that the proposed changes will be tremendously difficult for our faculty and staff,” said Joanna Gregson, professor of Sociology and PLU’s acting provost. 

Included in the committee’s provisional recommendations, the Classics program and Nordic Studies major would be eliminated. Also in question are graduate programs, including MFA in Creative Writing, M.S. in Marketing Research and M.S. in Finance. All students currently enrolled will be able to complete their program of study.

“PLU’s budget is in balance, this year and last,” today’s statement said. “We have already refinanced our bonds and made other administrative and operating changes, which have resulted in three million dollars in annual savings.” It has been discussed publicly before that the university fought to address a $3 million budget gap over the past year.

The FJC committee recommendations now go to the leaders of academic units in question, who will now review and affirm those recommendations or offer suggestions of their own to achieve similar outcomes.

Once that review work is completed in mid-September, the FJC will make final recommendations to PLU’s provost and president. The university’s board of regents will hear the president’s recommendations and vote on the matter at its December meeting.