“Justice for faculty,” students chanted during the meeting.
The board and Chancellor Jeff Pittman left the room for about an hour, but decided to return to carry out the urgent vote by a show of hands.
Through the chanting and yelling, the board decided to move forward with the budget response team’s recommendations, cutting almost 100 faculty and staff jobs.
“We’ve done out diligence and now it’s time to go home,” chairman Doris Graham said following voting during the protest.
One day after the protest, we’re hearing from the chancellor – the man in the center of student’s backlash.
“Chancellor Pittman you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side,” protesters yelled.
“It was unexpected,” Pittman said. “There was a lot of students there with a great deal of passion for the faculty and their college. There seems to be a protest environment in St. Louis right now so I suppose that should have been too much of a surprise.”
The chancellor – whose contract the board also voted to extend until 2023 – is hoping to not layoff lower level professors and instead offer a retirement incentive to those who are tenured.
“It’s also preferable if someone can retire and get full retirement benefits then have to lay off someone who isn’t eligible,” he said.
Those cuts won’t be happening soon as the board directed Pittman to hold it off until March 2018.
But as tensions continues to rise between students and administrators, student protestors said they’ll continue pushing their issue to the board.
“We’ll be back,” student protesters yelled.
“We will keep showing up and we will keep coming back until our voices are heard,” student protestor Sean Thomas said.
“I’m just going to keep extending those invitations and meeting with faculty and staff as much as I can and keep pushing us forward and that’s tough in tough times,” Pittman said.
Student protesters also said they decided to disrupt the meeting because they felt the board already had their minds made up.
The chancellor says that was simply not true.