The college of liberal arts and sciences met on Monday to discuss the reorganization of their departments. The models represented turning all the departments into four or five schools within the college, getting rid of departments. This is part of the reinvestments and changes that Emporia State President Ken Hush started with the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) in September when 33 professors were fired and multiple programs were cut.
This meeting was led by James Ehlers, professor of art, and Amy Sage Webb-Baza, professor of English, modern languages and journalism. They were temporarily selected to facilitate the reorganization and to get feedback for provost Brent Thomas, who wasn’t at the meeting, until June 9.
Webb-Baza began by asking everyone to take a moment of silence for the staff that was fired and won’t be moving ahead with them.
“It's strange that here we are getting together to plan a future after so many programs in one email swoop are not continuing with us,” Webb-Baza said. “We are being asked to step forward after any number of people, our colleagues, were rudely disinvited from that process.”
Ehlers welcomed everyone and explained what was going on, then told the staff to keep certain goals in mind.
Webb-Baza then started a presentation showing four different models of how the reorganization can look. Some of the models had an associate dean and some didn’t, this would determine who would go to the provost on behalf of the college.
The models showed how it would look on the staff and student side and how it would look on the administrative side. Multiple teachers voiced their concerns on how the logistics would work.
Gary Ziek, a music professor, raised concern about how one administrative specialist could handle such a big workload. He used Mary Lopez, music’s administrative specialist, as an example, saying she’s already overworked and he can’t imagine one person could do multiple things with each area. A few other professors voiced similar opinions.
Webb-Baza reminded the faculty that this was the point of the meeting. For faculty to keep brainstorming and write down their feedback, comments, and concerns to give to Thomas, who will be presented that information on Friday. Faculty has until Friday at 5 p.m. to voice their concerns to Webb-Baza and Ehlers. Some professors questioned why the timeframe is so short.
On Feb. 6, Thomas will be meeting with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to discuss their feedback. Feb. 8 and 9 Thomas will be preventing a “loose draft” to KBOR.
Charles Brown, professor in sociology, social sciences, and criminology, said the goals and motives were unclear to him and he felt he couldn’t give feedback on these if the university wasn’t being transparent in the reasons behind reorganizations.
Mallory Koci, director of ethnic & gender studies, clinical instructor, saidshe would read everything and give tons of feedback, however, she was worried that not all of the teachers’ feedback would be looked at or genuinely considered.
Webb-Baza kept encouraging them to write all of this down because she and Ehlers didn’t have the answers. She said this change was going to take place with or without the faculty so they needed to use this opportunity to shape the future.
She also told the faculty, “Our assumption based on- what we have been doing this for a week?- is that what’s suspended is not in the plan for what they are looking at.”
Michael Morales, associate professor of physical sciences, called this “the 1,000 pound gorilla in the room that no one wants to talk about.” He said he thought they shouldn’t be making plans to move forward if they don't know what will happen to the suspended programs, because it would reduce the schools in the reorganization.
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