Faculty Forum poses questions, discusses budget

Cassie Buchman, Administration Editor

Faculty Senate hosted a forum in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Lecture Hall to answer faculty questions about the budget and Memorandum of Agreement Tuesday.

Jemmie Robertson, the faculty senate chair, relayed an hour-long meeting he had with Eastern President David Glassman.

“One thing that has come to my attention and a frequently voiced thought is that we feel our voice as faculty, even though there have been warning signs about the budget, we have been vocal about finding things out and have been ignored,” Robertson said.

He said he asked Glassman about having an open dialogue and Glassman was very open to that idea.

Robertson also talked to Glassman about approving amendments that were not passed by former Eastern President Bill Perry.

“My opinion was that it might be sort of a low tide in terms of faculty morale,” Robertson said. “And (Glassman) definitely wants to work to improve that and strengthen the university and move forward.”

Jon Blitz, the University Professionals of Illinois president, recounted events that have happened in regards to the memorandum and layoffs for the first part of the meeting.

The memorandum extended the contracts of some annually contracted faculty members while deferring the 1.5 percent raise for a year as well.

“The annually contracted faculty had a week, five working days, to decide if they wanted to take the offer,” Blitz said. “22 of them did take that offer.”

Blitz said that for everybody who did not renew their contract, that money was put into a pool to offer these faculty contracts for employment in the springtime.

“They will have employment in the spring, but nowhere near full time,” Blitz said.

Blitz also said they were going to have imminent discussions about early retirement.

Four Administrative and Professional Service employees received layoff notices on Thursday and Friday.

“The question is, what happens from here?” Blitz said. “I think for UPI, for faculty, we’re O.K. for the time being. But the other shoe has to drop, if we have a big budget decrease.”

The layoffs that occurred during the summer are based off what Blitz called an “optimistic” estimate of a 6.5 percent decrease in the budget.

“I’m not sure that optimistic scenario is going to hold true,” Blitz said. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Nobody does.”

One issue brought up was the enrollment, and how to increase it.

James Conwell, a physics professor, said the incompetence of certain individuals in charge of this need to be addressed.

“We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore,” Conwell said.

Gary Aylesworth, philosophy professor, was applauded when he spoke about the faculty not just being another group of stakeholders.

“We as faculty have been marginalized,” Aylesworth said. “We have a role, we have an authority, and we have a certain amount of power. If we’re ever going to have that power, we’re going to have to take it.”

Grant Sterling, a professor of philosophy, talked about the university’s current budget issue.

“The university has been losing money from a rate of roughly $6 million dollars a year for the last three years,” Sterling said.

Sterling said the Council on University Planning and Budgeting was charged with program analysis, and the charge was to identify cuts that would rectify budgeting problems, but it failed in that mission.

“The administration’s response to this was to ignore the vast majority of the document and pick out things that were consistent with what they were already doing and go with that.”

Sterling said last spring the state took back a substantial amount of funds they had previously allocated to Eastern.

“Of course, as Jon has already pointed out, the state has not finalized the budget from this current year,” Sterling said. “There is no chance we can expect a flat budgetary allotment from the state.”


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]