Rock Valley College

FAQ on Faculty RIF

On February 28, 2017, the Rock Valley College Board of Trustees voted to implement a reduction in force of some tenured and non-tenured faculty members. For those who wish to read a comprehensive explanation of the College’s decision to implement the reduction in force (RIF), we have created a 12-page document for your review.

Below we have attempted to answer some of the most common questions we have been receiving since the decision was made. We hope this will also address some misinformation, concerns, and questions that have arisen. At the bottom of the page you may also submit a question if your question was not answered on this page or in the 12-page rationale. 

Please know the College will continue to minimize the direct impact on students.
 

Will the College’s reduction of the course schedule affect a student’s ability to graduate on time or transfer to another institution?
 

Regardless of this crisis, the College continues its efforts to minimize direct impact on students.  The course schedule may contain less variety of courses and fewer section options for some courses, but academic leaders have worked hard to ensure that the courses students need to graduate in a timely manner will be made available. Reducing the number of classes offered does not affect the transferability of courses.

It is highly advised that you speak with an Academic Advisor if you have concerns about the course offerings.

 

Many classes for the fall schedule list "TBA" for the instructor. When will I know who is going to teach those courses?
 

As enrollment in those "TBA" classes grows, administration will be better able to determine how many full time faculty are needed and will begin listing faculty names for the courses. RIF notifications will be rescinded based on course enrollment, seniority, and qualifications to teach specific disciplines as quickly as the process allows.  You are urged to enroll in the classes you need for your particular program at the times that best fit your needs regardless of the designated instructor.  You are also urged to speak with an Academic Advisor about your fall schedule, as that is also part of the process administration is using to determine the need for faculty.  

 

Why wasn’t the college better prepared to weather this fiscal crisis?
 

The College took numerous steps over the last three years to minimize the impact of the fiscal crisis. The College implemented a reduction in force in December 2015 of 30 non-instructional employees and eliminated 14 non-instructional vacant positions. Additionally, the College saved over $800,000 on non-instructional salaries for positions that are either on hold or were not funded in FY17. Departments across the College reduced expense budgets on non-salary items by approximately $1.1 million from FY16 to FY17. Despite these reductions, the College is still facing a $1.6 million deficit for FY17 and the outlook for FY18 is even more challenging.

Historically, Illinois community colleges have relied on state funding, local property taxes, tuition, and enrollment increases to fund operational costs. The College has traditionally received approximately $6.5 million from the state for operating costs, which primarily covers salaries, benefits, and materials, and is separate from capital costs. The College has lost $9.4 million in state funding for its operations since 2016. The Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) for the RVC tax base has declined by approximately $1.2 billion in value from 2007. This reduction in the value of the tax base has led to a $4.2 million decrease in revenue to the College from 2007 to 2015. Additionally, the College has experienced a decline in enrollment in recent years, losing approximately 5,000 students (-28%) and approximately 32,000 credit hours sold (-16%) since 2010.

 

Will the College just hire adjunct instructors now to replace the full-time faculty who were let go?
 

Section 6.14 of the 2015-2020 Rock Valley College Faculty Collective Bargaining Agreement outlines actions the College will need to take if and when classes are added to expand the schedule.  As such, the College cannot first hire adjuncts to teach any courses added to expand the schedule.  Full-time faculty, including those that were subject to the reduction in force, would have preferred right to appointment as the instructor of record.  This means that some of the faculty subject to the reduction in force may be called back.  In fact, for a two-year period, any faculty member subject to the reduction in force has the preferred right to teach courses added to expand the schedule for which they were hired and are qualified to teach prior to the appointment of any new faculty.  

 

The College has maintained that its accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) will not be affected by the reduction in force (RIF) of 28 faculty members by citing the College’s successful accreditation visit in 2014 and that the College is not scheduled for reaffirmation for accreditation by the HLC until 2024. But can’t this recent development of the faculty RIF raise a red flag with the HLC and negatively impact the College’s accreditation?
 

The Higher Learning Commission defines assumed practices, as well as criteria for accreditation and core components, that institutions must demonstrate to gain and maintain accreditation status.  As noted, the College had a successful accreditation visit in 2014, and the next reaffirmation is scheduled to occur in 10 years.  However, as part of the 10-year cycle of review, the College provides annual institutional updates and will have a comprehensive evaluation with a site visit in Spring of 2019.  As a part of this process the College will submit documents and evidence to demonstrate that it meets the criteria for accreditation and core components such as 3.C. The institution has the faculty and staff needed for effective, high-quality programs and student services and 5.A. The institution’s resource base supports its current educational programs and its plans for maintaining and strengthening their quality in the future.

The Higher Learning Commission is well aware of the financial crisis faced by Illinois institutions of higher education.  A letter from the Commission dated February 4, 2016, was sent to all accredited institutions within the State of Illinois.  Specifically, the Higher Learning Commission asked how institutions continue to meet the Criteria for Accreditation as outlined in Core Component 5.A as they deal with the consequences of loss of State funding during the budget impasse.  The College's response to that letter, as well as the Commission's response are posted on the accreditation page of the College's website.  In addition, the Higher Learning Commission has been informed of the College's recent actions with respect to the reduction in force. 

 

Several nursing instructors and two of the three full-time dental hygiene instructors were on the RIF list. Can’t this reduction negatively affect the College’s accreditation for those programs?
 

Nursing: In light of the College’s current financial crisis and because of the high cost of instructional delivery for this program, an alternate year start scenario had once been considered for nursing.  Since then, the nursing department has restructured some of their programming and course fee structure.  At this time the concept of an alternate year start has been placed on hold and the program will continue as it has in the past with both a fall and spring cohort.  We hope this clears up misconceptions about the nursing program and we encourage you to continue to pursue your nursing education at RVC and register for fall courses when registration begins. 

Dental Hygiene: In light of the College’s current financial crisis and because of the high cost of instructional delivery for this program, an alternate year start scenario was considered for Dental Hygiene.  Similar to the nursing program, the Dental Hygiene program has restructured some of their programming and course fee structure.  The idea of accreditation being in jeopardy by Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) or the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is not an issue.  All student to instructor ratios have been addressed in the proposed program changes.  We hope this clears up misconceptions about the Dental Hygiene program and we encourage you to continue to pursue your Dental Hygiene education at RVC and register for fall courses when registration begins. 

 

Will the loss of two full-time instructors in Dental Hygiene keep current Dental Hygiene students from completing the program on time?
 

No. All courses current students in the Dental Hygiene program need to graduate, including courses taught this summer, will be offered as planned. Although registration is not open yet, you may view available courses for summer and fall on our website or via Online Services to begin planning your schedule.

 

How can the College justify building a new Health Sciences Center and then eliminate several professors from both Nursing and Dental Hygiene?
 

The new Health Sciences Center will be the home to not only the College’s Nursing and Dental Hygiene programs but it will also house Surgical Technology, Respiratory Therapy, Nursing Assistant, Phlebotomy, Fire Science/EMT, and Medical Terminology.  The fourth floor of the building will house the OSF Saint Anthony College of Nursing (SACN)  providing a seamless transfer option for RVC nursing students to continue their education and pursue bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in nursing.  

 

Is the College’s Nursing program in jeopardy?
 

No.  The college is evaluating tuition and course fees associated with the program to cover the high cost of instruction. 

 

Will OSF faculty be filling the void left by the RIF of RVC Nursing instructors when the new Health Sciences Center opens?
 

No. The fourth floor of the building will house the OSF Saint Anthony College of Nursing, providing seamless transfer for RVC nursing students to continue their education and pursue bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in nursing. OSF instructors will not teach RVC nursing courses.

 

The College has explained that capital dollars used to build the Health Sciences Center could not be used to fund operational expenses. But don’t the costs to operate and maintain that building come out of the College’s operational budget and isn’t this irresponsible given the College’s current fiscal challenges?
 

It’s true that operating and maintaining the new building will be an operational expense for the College, but part of the College’s long-term plan includes decommissioning the Samuelson Road Center. Moving allied health programs, such as Surgical Technology, Respiratory Care, and Dental Hygiene, from Samuelson Road Center to the Health Sciences Center is one big step in this process.  Long-term plans will relocate the remaining programs from Samuelson to other RVC facilities to save the College the operating costs for Samuelson.

 

The College says it is not eliminating any programs, but the RIF list included most of the Business professors and the two professors who teach Accounting. How can the College continue these programs after the recent RIF?
 

The courses, certificates, and degrees offered within the Business Division will be reviewed to determine how they can best be updated to attract students and meet regional needs.

Accounting is one discipline within the larger Business Division.  Two of the seven tenured faculty identified for the reduction in force teach accounting but were lower in seniority.  Per Section 6.14 of the 2015-2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement between RVC Board of Trustees and RVC Faculty Association, the faculty teaching accounting were added to the reduction in force list.  If no faculty member within the Business Division more senior than the two teaching accounting meets the minimum qualifications to teach accounting courses, one or more of the faculty teaching accounting could be reinstated.  Decisions on this will be driven by Section 6.14 of the 2015-2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement between RVC Board of Trustees and RVC Faculty Association, and related questions can be directed to the RVC Faculty Association President.

 

The College says it is not eliminating any programs, but two of the professors teaching in the Electronic Engineering Technology (EET) program were on the RIF list. How can the EET program continue?
 

Declining enrollment suggests that no faculty would be able to achieve the 15 hours required for full-time status per Section 6.3 of the 2015-2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement between RVC Board of Trustees and RVC Faculty Association with EET courses.  The program is being reviewed; curricular improvements will be made to make it attractive to students while addressing regional needs.

 

How can the College continue its music program now in light of the recent RIF?
 

RVC does not offer a degree in music.  Students may select music courses to fulfill general education requirements to complete an Associate of Arts.  Music courses designed to fulfill general education requirements for degree completion and transfer to four-year programs are not impacted. 

Still have questions?


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