One chief concern at the Faculty Senate meeting Tuesday was the course list of summer classes for the 2013 semester. A few of the sitting senators were absent, but there were more than enough present to discuss the current events and concerns of faculty across campus.
Marvin Harrell, professor of mathematics and computer science, addressed an email he received stating that courses for the summer couldn’t be offered unless the amount of enrollment equaled or rose above the salary of the professor.
“The course becomes dependent upon a person’s salary versus dependent upon a need,” Harrell said.
In addition, he said, those professors who have achieved and worked towards a higher-paying position are now penalized. In the past, the issue could be resolved if the professor taught larger classes in addition to those smaller classes. The pool would fill, and the issue of small enrollment would work itself out.
“All of a sudden now, it’s a number game based upon salary,” Harrell said. “I think that’s problematic.”
Michael Morales, professor of paleontology and earth science, agreed that it was problematic but also offered a solution.
Morales suggested bringing back a previous system where departments were given a budget for the summer and can’t have a lower income of students coming in than given in the budget. This way, if one professor has a larger class, the income there could subsidize for the rest of the department.
The heart of the issue, Morales said, is “micromanagement.”
“It’s an example of micromanaging at too high a level in our administration of things that should be done at the department level,” Morales said. “It can be easily solved if they let the departments do it.”
George Durler, professor of accounting, said interim provost Gwen Alexander should include faculty in discussions concerning academics.
“We need to get the point across to the provost (Alexander) to include faculty in these decisions, instead of arbitrarily making them, then telling us what she’s decided,” Durler said. “We (need to) have an open discussion.”
As another possible solution, Harrell brought up the idea of a flat pay-rate for all those professors teaching summer courses.
“I would be much happier if they were to say, ‘It’s X-number of dollars a credit hour. That’s what everyone is going to get paid,’” Harrell said.
Some of the most distinguished professors, Harrell also said, are getting priced out of teaching a class.
Kevin Rabas, faculty president and co-director of creative writing, said he will present the opinions and possible solutions to Alexander. What comes of their discussion will not only affect faculty pay, but also whether or students can enroll in certain summer courses.
The next Faculty Senate meeting is at 3:30 p.m. March 5 in the Preston Family Room in the Memorial Union.