Faculty forum

Dan Colson, associate professor of English, modern languages, and journalism, sits with his head hanging while interim provost Brent Thomas answers questions from faculty members during Friday's meeting. (photo by Sam Bailey)

A special faculty meeting was held Friday to discuss concerns over the newly presented Workforce Management Framework.

During the meeting, professors Dan Colson and Michael Morales presented a resolution, which stated that the proposed framework was “largely opaque, with no Faculty Senate involvement.” The resolution passed unanimously. 

About 85 faculty members attended in person and via Zoom.

In an effort to aid public universities that financially struggled because of declining enrollments and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) is allowing public universities to submit justification to dismiss faculty members, including tenured professors. ESU President Ken Hush announced the administration's plan to submit a justification in a campus-wide email Sept. 7. 

Cynthia Kane, professor of University Libraries and Archives, said that Hush’s email was unclear about who or what group of people drafted the framework.

“The group that actually wrote the draft of the framework, was that the ESU leadership team? Was it a smaller group that we do not know about?” Kane asked during the meeting. 

There was an audible groan from several attending faculty members when interim provost Brent Thomas responded by deferring the question to Kevin Johnson, the university’s legal counsel. 

“I believe he could provide you with that information,” Thomas said. 

The leadership team, formed by Hush, consists of students, faculty and community members who advise Hush in decisions, as described by Shelly Gehrke in an ASG forum on Friday

In an email to The Bulletin, Johnson denied The Bulletin’s request to attend and report on leadership team meetings, stating the meetings are “staff meetings” that are not open to the public. Johnson also stated that the leadership team is not an entity of ESU, nor was it created by ESU.

When attending faculty members raised concern that they were not represented, because none of the leadership team members are tenured faculty. Thomas replied, “Duly noted.”

Many faculty members expressed concerns and fears about the current state of the university, including the lack of communication and transparency between administration and faculty on new policies and changes. 

Charles Brown, professor of social sciences, sociology and criminology said reading the framework draft was a difficult and traumatic process for him.

“It’s very disheartening to hear the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences defend and promote this program,” Brown said. 

The Workforce Management Framework is first on KBOR’s agenda for their meeting Wednesday. The Board will then vote whether to approve the policy.

 

Sarah Spicer advises The Bulletin on stories about Emporia State’s framework to dismiss employees. 

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