Faculty Senate supports President’s letter to faculty

Analicia Haynes, Administration Editor

The Faculty Senate voted 11-3 Tuesday to endorse a letter drafted by President David Glassman.

The letter was introduced at an executive board meeting, and Glassman said after addressing the initial list of suggestions he decided it would be a good idea to bring it to the senate.

The letter, which is a communication between Glassman and the faculty, addresses the negativity expressed by professors as a result of the 10-month budget impasse.

It aims to create a unified and positive message about the university’s future.

Glassman said he developed the letter after receiving numerous emails from family members or parents of prospective students as well as current students.

Glassman said the parents told him that their students heard a range of conflicting thoughts regarding the future of Eastern from their professors.

“I just gave a couple of examples that range from ‘don’t worry everything is going to be fine’ to ‘we’re going to be closed no doubt about it, that’s it seek shelter now,’” Glassman said.

Glassman said he received letters from parents who said faculty members have cried to their students.

“I know that this is a very emotional situation,” Glassman said. “It certainly doesn’t cause a sense of security for a student if a faculty member is crying about the plight of the institution.”

Glassman said he thought it would be interesting to share the letter with Faculty Senate in the spirit of shared governance, and if the senate wanted to approve it he would state their support at the bottom of the letter.

“If you felt that there was a sentiment of consistency with my thoughts then we can share this message together and send it (the letter) out,” Glassman said.

Glassman said he would send the letter even if the senate did not support it because he wants faculty to share a consistent message that the university will remain open in the fall.

Glassman also said he was open to any suggestions or changes made by senators.

“Everything in here (the letter) is how I see it and what I know to be true from the standpoint that the confusion of not having a consistent message has really caused a great deal of additional angst by students and it is already affecting students’ thought processes relative to the fall,” Glassman said.

Senator Teshome Abebe suggested a change at the end of the second paragraph in the letter, which states, “The university will rapidly implement the plan to financially restructure itself to have operating expenses adjusted to meet tuition and fee revenues.”

Abebe asked if the sentence could end just by writing, “the university will rapidly implement a plan to meet the challenge,” and asked if it will change the spirit of what Glassman wanted to see.

Glassman said Abebe’s suggestion was what was originally stated in the letter; however, after numerous edits to the draft, the sentence was revised to include the detail of the plan in case an appropriation was not received.

“We brought in that sentence because the faculty might want to know do we have a plan, and the plan is of course if we don’t have an appropriation we have to restructure ourselves,” Glassman said.

Senator Jason Waller asked what the possible procedure for structural changes would be if the university did not receive an appropriation.

Glassman said the university would have to declare a financial emergency and members from the administration, Faculty Senate and the Council on University Planning and Budget would have to work together to develop a plan to become a private institution.

Glassman said they would have to review the mission as well as the entire expense and revenue generation of the university in order to develop this plan.

“It would have to work very quickly,” Glassman said. “CUPB collected a great deal of data a couple of years ago we have some assorted data on academic and all these things would have to be examined.”

Senator Svellana Mitrovski said she is against endorsing the letter because of several problems.

“First of all I’m not quite sure what we are being asked to endorse,” Mitrovski said. “Is it your thoughts about how faculty should behave or what faculty should say or what they should not say, that’s something that I’m not understanding.”

Mitrovski said another problem is that nobody knows what is going to happen and people are only expressing their thoughts.

She said though she is against sharing misinformation, she cannot prevent anyone from sharing their thoughts because this is an academic institution and that violates their freedom of speech.

“So in general the tone of the letter is such that ‘oh no faculty don’t say a thing’ and I don’t like that,” Mitrovski said.

Glassman said the tone was not to tell anybody what they can or can not do, what they think or what they say.

“What I’m trying to endorse is that you join me in presenting the consistent unified message of positivity,” Glassman said.

Senator Steven Scher said he is reluctant to send this message to the faculty by endorsing the letter because the senate is an independent body.

Scher said he would feel more comfortable if the senate drafted a letter.

Glassman said any senator who does not want to support the letter for whatever reason can vote no.

“It’s just a matter of saying I don’t join you in that sentiment for whatever reason you have and I respect that,” Glassman said.

However, Mitrovski said she does not think it is the job of the faculty senate to endorse a sentiment, to me it doesn’t I don’t think that’s the job of faculty senate.

Senator Jeannie Ludlow suggested the letter should sound more invitational by changing certain words and saying things in a more positive way.

Jeff Stowell, vice chair of Faculty Senate, said he likes the letter and by endorsing it the senate would avoid writing a similar letter.


Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]