Marquette University students, faculty protest after school fires 39 employees, cuts 240 classes

NOW: Marquette University students, faculty protest after school fires 39 employees, cuts 240 classes

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Some Marquette students, staff and faculty held a protest and blocked an intersection Wednesday afternoon, March 3, against the cuts made -- and some planned -- for the coming months. 

Soon after firing 39 employees on Feb. 15, the school's provost announced 240 fewer classes would be offered in the fall, resulting in fewer non-tenure-track faculty annual contracts being renewed.

Protesters say this will mean bigger class sizes, less advisors and fewer opportunities for undergraduate research.

Those against the changes are asking for transparency and an explanation of funds.

People at the rally argue the school is currently in a $12 million surplus. They also seek answers as to why part of the $9 million federal funds given to the university were not used to save faculty jobs.

"We believe that they will have irreparable damage to the national reputation of the university, and it's going to affect the academic experience of Marquette students," said Sonia Barnes, associate professor of Spanish. 

In a statement Wednesday, the university said:

"Colleges and universities were forced to eliminate 650,000 jobs in 2020. Guided by our Catholic, Jesuit mission, Marquette faculty and staff worked together this past fall to mitigate our own financial challenges — we were able to limit workforce reductions without impacting tenured and tenure-track faculty. 
There is a direct relationship between the number of enrolled students, course sections and the annual non-tenure-track contract process. Last fall’s incoming class (Class of 2024) was 16% smaller than the previous year, making it the smallest class in more than two decades. With fewer students, the number of class sections required for the next academic year will decrease, resulting in fewer non-tenure-track faculty annual contracts being renewed. Marquette is committed to keeping class sizes small to create a supportive learning environment for students. We will continue to be responsible financial stewards, which includes ensuring the university’s ability to persevere during national emergencies and keeping a Marquette education accessible to all students."

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