Quality and pride are among the priorities outlined in a recent report regarding university programs and services. President Michael Shonrock said he would use the report’s finding to advocate for Emporia State during the legislative session. He spoke before the state legislature this morning.
“As we go into a legislative session, it’s important for me to be able to say that we are looking at things within our institution and prioritizing,” Shonrock said during the Faculty Senate meeting Tuesday.
The report, compiled by Robert Driewer, a consultant hired to evaluate ESU’s funding priorities, consisted of Driewer’s findings during interviews with 68 individuals in various campus departments during the fall 2012 semester. Driewer, former CEO of Newman Regional Health in Emporia, who retired in May 2012, asked each department what they would do with additional resources, with the same resources and with few resources.
Driewer received $100 per hour, “not to exceed $20,000,” according to the university consulting agreement. The University paid a total of $13,900 for the services.
But some faculty, including Andrew Houchins, who sat in for Lynette Schreiner during the senate meeting, are concerned with the accuracy of the report’s data. Houchins, professor of music, said the report for the music department was “a complete misrepresentation.”
“There were a number of errors, like saying that we don’t have very many students when we actually have 32 students,” Houchins said. “The music department, as a whole, is very concerned about the report.”
Houchins said in light of recent rumors about certain classes being cut next fall, the report was a “downer” for the music department. Shonrock apologized and said that was not the intention of the report.
Michael Morales, associate professor of physical sciences, said he spoke with three people who were interviewed and read the report and that all three individuals echoed Houchins’ concern for factual errors.
Morales also said he was concerned that decisions are being made at all levels without enough – if any – faculty input.
“The faculty know we’re not deciders – that’s what administrators are,” Morales said, “but we damn well ought to be editors of what administrators are thinking.”
Morales asked that faculty be involved earlier in discussions regarding major institutional decisions, like expanding Wi-Fi access throughout campus.
Shonrock said the administration would do its best to facilitate more communication.
“If you have thoughts or ideas, I’m willing to listen,” Shonrock said. “That’s why we’re here today…we’ll find the balance – that I’m confident in.”
Deborah Gerish, associate professor of social sciences, didn’t voice any concerns with the report, but she did ask about the possibility of bringing the issue of shared maternity leave before the legislature.
“The cost of what to do while a faculty or staff member is on maternity leave comes back to the departments,” Gerish said, “and that seems – I’m sorry – it seems like a ridiculous way to run things in a state that prides itself on its family-friendliness.”
Shonrock said he didn’t know much about the topic, but the administration had previously discussed it.
“I’ve got a big heart,” he said. “We’re in the people business – it’s what we do. If we can help folks, we need to do that to the best of our abilities.”
The senate also voted to accept a Faculty Affairs report that clarifies the administration’s policy for spending from Restricted Use accounts, 28-0-0. Gwen Alexander, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, addressed plans to place professional advisers in the Student Advising Center. Check next week’s issue for more information regarding this development.
The next Faculty Senate meeting is at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 19 in the Preston Family Room in the Memorial Union.