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Sierra Nevada University Lays Off Faculty in Cost-Cutting Measure

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Sierra Nevada University (SNU) is laying off several faculty to reduce operational costs amid stagnant enrolment and a shortfall in revenue resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The university said that at least nine teachers, some with more than three decades at SNU, would receive a severance package in lieu of a contract extension.

SNU President Rob Valli informed students in an email that the school is aligning its number of undergraduate faculty with current enrolment, the needs of students, and market demand.

“Unfortunately, throughout this painful but necessary process, the Board of Trustees has approved a budget that will require a lower number of full-time undergraduate faculty,” he explained.

The university has yet to disclose how it will remodel the curriculum or replace classes since the nine faculty laid off taught courses “at the core of most of the majors.”

‘Focus on the Future’

In recent years, SNU has laid off many employees as part of cost-cutting measures. In 2017, six full-time faculty were left jobless in an attempt to balance the school’s budget.

The university has also parted ways with some of its key personnel, including its psychology department chair, provost, and executive vice provost.

Amid continuing reductions in staff, Valli alluded to a new vision for SNU, focusing on “goals for the future and how to move ahead with those who will join us in what we fervently believe will be a stronger and more exciting future for our students.”

Former Faculty Voice Concerns

Earlier this year, faculty at SNU received notice about possible layoffs due to the economic effects of the pandemic and the general hardships threatening higher education. “We cannot guarantee your employment past your current active agreement date,” Valli wrote in an email sent to SNU personnel.

Now that some long-time employees have been laid off, former English and Humanities Department Chair June Saraceno said she wishes nothing but the best for students.

Another former faculty member, Sheri Leigh O’Connor, described the move as “heartbreaking” for employees who have been laid off and for their students.

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