Asymmetrical Information - Megan McArdle

01.25.13

Vermont Law Offers Professors Buyouts

Declining enrollment leads to cutbacks

The other day I predicted that declining law school enrollments would lead to law professors losing their jobs.  I didn't realize it would happen quite so soon, however:  

Vermont Law School cut a dozen jobs earlier this week in a move telegraphed last year, when the school offered voluntary buyouts to staff members in light of declining admissions. Of the 12 staff members that left, 10 accepted buyouts, VLS spokeswoman Carol Westberg said. The other two people were laid off. None of the affected workers were faculty members. ...

The downsizing comes as a result of fewer applications over the past three years, VLS officials said, a problem that exists for law schools nationwide as potential students, dissuaded by a lack of open law jobs, don’t bother to apply. Westberg said that about 200 students are set to graduate with juris doctor degrees this spring. She said the school is predicting between 150 and 170 students to enroll this coming fall. ...

Although the school’s faculty members haven’t been affected yet, [President Marc] Mihaly said that a similar buyout program is in the planning stages for professors. That plan would have professors retain their titles, but no longer be salaried, instead working on a part-time or class-to-class basis. “It’s really not a separation, as much as a change in status,” Mihaly said.

Those offers will be sent to faculty members in early February, he said. He was unsure of the amount of full-time positions that would need to be excised, saying that depended on next year’s total enrollment.

I suddenly feel less envious of my friends with tenure . . .