Emporia State terminates 33 staff members, faculty  

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By Lex Grattan 

Following a plan approved by the Kansas Board of Regents the week of Sept. 18, 33 staff and faculty members at Emporia State University were let go. Of those 33 people, 23 worked in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the ESU Bulletin reported. In his first year as president of the university, Ken Hush said decades of unsuccessful budgets were leading the university down a path of financial crisis and made the seemingly immediate decision to downsize the university’s staff.  

    In the wake of such significant changes, many have called Hush’s qualifications into question citing his lack of an advanced degree and ties to the corporate world, specifically Koch industries. ESU officials have said the idea emerged from a leadership team facilitated by Hush but described it as a long-running group effort. Many faculty, staff and students at ESU have spoken out about their contempt for the situation. English and Theatre senior Chelsie Baldwin lamented the loss of her beloved professors: “I’ve loved my time at Emporia State University. I’ve had incredible professors and I truly am sad that my time here is coming to an end. Since the firing day, though, I can’t cheer for my school anymore. . . . I can’t recommend this school because it won’t be my college anymore. Seven of my professors were fired. I’m heartbroken. I loved them and cared for them and they truly changed my life. Walking around campus right now is like walking around a cemetery. There’s no laughter. There’s no joy. It’s just a deep sadness and pain. One of my favorite professors has been with the college for almost 40 years. He was fired just like they all were, by people they didn’t know and with a packet of information saying that they had to act in line or they’d be terminated immediately instead of in May and they would lose their severance. How can I tell those visiting to come to a place where my major probably won’t exist anymore? When the people who made me love it here are gone with the snap of Hush’s fingers? Students had no choice in any of this. We have no idea if our majors are still here, how we will meet requirements for graduation without professors, and we had no choice in Hush. He is less qualified than anyone he fired. And he will sink our college. It’s devastating. I’m very glad I’m graduating in May.” Despite the pushback and protests on the ESU campus the college board has said that the employee cuts at Emporia State have a purpose, and they promise to reinvest savings in a way that improves long-term institutional viability.