Instructor loses job due to deficit, frustrated with CMU’s treatment of fixed-term faculty
When Bill Blond discovered he will not have a teaching position at Central Michigan University in the fall, he said he felt all of the energy leave his body.
“I just sat there kind of numb,” said Blond, an English instructor. “It felt like somebody pounded a tap into my back and just drained my life out like syrup.”
As CMU addresses a two-year $20 million budget deficit, Blond found he is one of dozens of faculty members and staff who are losing their jobs or not being reappointed. Although administrators said the university is laying off 24 staffers, Blond said that number does not reflect the fixed-term faculty who are not being reappointed. The fixed-term faculty Lecturer I contract does not require the university to justify discontinuing their position.
Blond taught at the university as a graduate student from 2008 to 2011. He returned in 2014 as a fixed-term faculty member. Despite making efforts to “prove himself” to the university, such as getting accepted to the Teaching Enhanced Active Learning Academy, he was told he will not be reappointed.
He said he’s especially devastated because he was one semester away from advancing into a two-year contract, which would have offered greater job security.
“I wish this was not normal,” Blond said. “But the way fixed-term faculty are treated, it’s typical. You know if push comes to shove they can get rid of you for any reason.
“I’m very frustrated. The lack of security, the anxiety, (the) depression that comes from knowing that you’re not wanted anymore; you’re no longer needed. It’s crushing.”
Blond feels his loyalty to the university has not been reciprocated. He questions the administration’s devotion to academics.
“I want to know: how much have they tightened their belt in the upper-level administration?” Blond said. “I’m going without a lot, I’m cutting a lot. I want know how many senior level officers have received a pay cut.”
Pamela Gates, dean of the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences, and department chair, Nicole Sparling both declined to comment, because “faculty hires for fall semester are not yet complete.”
Blond said the administration has called fixed-term faculty a “flexible” workforce, as if the instructors do their jobs just to “help out.”
“It’s your job, it’s your livelihood. It’s something I enjoy doing,” Blond said. “I enjoy teaching, but the lack of security is crippling.”
Since his notification, Blond has incorporated searching for jobs into his daily routine. He worries about supporting his family. Daria, Blond’s wife, is a stay-at-home mother caring for their sons — Davy, Sammy and Charlie.
“With our kids, it's stressful,” he said. “I can’t spend as much time with them because I’m worried about finding a job. It's hard on your marriage, you need time together. Working to raise a family of three kids is already hard enough, but then when you don’t know where you’ll be — whether you’ll be moving, staying, (or) whether we’re going to take a much lower paying job. I don’t like disappointing my family.”
After finding out about his job loss in early April, Blond said it can be difficult to continue teaching every day. As he’s been trying to finish classes and grading in the past few weeks, he often feels “drained, unmotivated, hurt and left behind.”
However, he still is working through the struggles and remains available to his students.
“The No. 1 reason you’re there is for the students,” Blond said.
Battle Creek junior Jace Trevino, a student in Blond’s English 201 class, described him as enthusiastic and devoted to students. He thinks it’s hard to find teachers as willing to connect with classes, and that Blond’s energy has not been affected in the classroom.
“He tries really hard,” Trevino said. “He puts his effort into it. It’s a subject that’s difficult to process if you don’t have the right teacher behind it. He makes his classes challenging, but insightful at the same time.”
Trevino values Blond’s influence because of his passion and personality as an instructor and person.
Trevino didn’t know Blond was not being reappointed at CMU, but said the news breaks his heart.
“He’s so OK with how nerdy he is,” Trevino said. “So OK (with it) that he shares it with everyone. It’s a beautiful thing. You can’t find those kind of people, that are just willing to be themselves with you and not hold back.”