UC Merced

Eight UC Merced lecturers lose jobs after change to general ed requirements

More than half a dozen lecturers in the Merritt Writing Program at UC Merced have been notified they won't be reappointed for the coming school year.

Some lecturers are upset about the situation, but university officials say it's just part of the process UC Merced goes through every year to evaluate course offerings, and is based in part on student demand.

University officials say the nonreappointments aren't layoffs and have nothing to do with the program or the university's budget.

Eight lecturers have been notified they won't be reappointed, said Jeff Narten, field representative with the University Council-American Federation of Teachers. The number could increase to 10, he said, but that hasn't been confirmed.

Lecturers were on a one-year appointment, which ended June 1, according to Patti Waid, UC Merced spokesperson. The appointment or reappointment of lecturers depends on the course offerings for the next term, Waid said.

Enrollment in certain courses may change later this summer after new students attend orientation and register for classes. Waid said lecturers may be appointed or reappointed later in the summer, once officials know the demand for courses.

Narten said he has been in negotiations with administrators at UC Merced. He also met with several lecturers throughout the day Wednesday.

The decision not to reappoint has to do with a change made late in the semester by the Academic Senate to change the general education requirements, he said. Initially, some lecturers received an e-mail that indicated the decision was due to $600,000 in overspending by the writing program this year, but that has been confirmed as false, he added.

CORE 100

The change in the general education requirements affected mostly lecturers in the writing program, Narten said.

The change was related to CORE 100, a general study course combining humanities and science. Evan Heit, professor and chairman of the Academic Senate, said the course was developed in 2004, but hasn't been offered since 2007. Students have been able to take several alternatives to the course, Heit said.

"Freshmen and sophomores will no longer be required to take CORE 100 or any of its substitutes. Instead, there will be a new requirement, but it hasn't been decided," he said.

But students still have writing requirements they must meet, Heit said.

Because of the change in general education requirements, union officials say, fewer lecturers would be needed.

The senate is always reflecting on how to better educate students, Heit said, and faculty will continue to reshape general education over next year.

Lecturers do most of the teaching involving undergraduate students, Narten said. A lecturer is on a yearly appointment for the first six years. They go through a review during their sixth year to determine whether they will become continuing lecturers, meaning they have no specific time length in their contract.

The university has discretion in regard to appointment and reappointment, according to a memorandum of understanding between the University of California and the University Council-American Federation of Teachers.

Carol Ellis is one of the lecturers not being reappointed, said she's upset about losing her job. Ellis has been with the university since 2007.

Upset, but hopeful

"I don't deserve to be let go," she said. "I'm really good; I have all this experience. It's totally uncalled for."

Ellis hopes she'll be reappointed later this summer.

Lecturer Nick Valdez, said some lecturers have received tentative schedules, others haven't.

Narten said most of them have received only an e-mail with a list of courses that they're tentatively scheduled to teach. "That's sort of a confirmation, but contracts haven't gone out yet," he said.

Contracts have to go out by June 15, Narten said. "I have no expectation that that's going to be done in a timely manner," he said.

Valdez, who isn't among the eight lecturers who received a notice, said the decision will negatively affect the education students will receive.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at yamaro@mercedsun-star.com or (209) 388-6507.