Groups to discuss Vitalization Project

Cassie Buchman, News Editor



Following a speech where Eastern President David Glassman announced the implementation of a Vitalization Project, the Faculty Senate will have an emergency meeting to discuss Tuesday.

Faculty senate chair Jemmie Robertson said he had several senators come up to him after the speech saying there needed to be a meeting, set for 2 p.m. in room 4440 of the Booth Library.

The Vitalization Project will consist of nine workgroups that will analyze programs and services on campus on their viability, efficiency and sustainability, then make recommendations for how the administration should allocate future resources and how they will fund targeted investments.

These recommendations will be reviewed by the president, who will then consult the appropriate vice president and their leadership team.

The workgroups can recommend deleting a program or service, continue with increased resources or for further efficiencies to be made to enhance a program’s marketability to increase enrollment.

The president will accept nominations from organizations or people can nominate themselves to be in the workgroup.

The Faculty Senate will discuss how they feel about Glassman being the one to accept faculty nominations as opposed to them flowing through the senate.

Robertson said he does not have a sense of how the senate feels about the Vitalization Project yet, but he personally wants to remain optimistic.

“(I want to) spread the word to all the faculty about the workgroups and encourage people to submit nominations and be willing to serve,” Robertson said. “Having as many of the right voices in those workgroups as possible could help reshape the future of the university.”

Robertson said he is open to having conversations with people about their different opinions tomorrow, however.

“(It could help) us have a dialogue about what we can do to increase enrollment,” he said.

Changing a program could be a euphemism for potentially cutting faculty, Robertson said, which concerns some members.

However, Glassman said any results from the workgroups would still go through collectively bargained channels. In a timeline on the president’s website, it said program deletions will follow agreements made with Eastern’s chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois.

“We need to have a dialogue about what our mission is and hopefully we can collectively get on the same page,” Robertson said.

Other concerns Robertson heard are about accepting the Vitalization Project outright without seeing data such as the profit-loss sheets that will be used to look at the cost efficiency of different programs on campus. These sheets have not been released as of yet.

Glassman said in an email that the sheets would contain multi-year data about academic and non-academic units across campus. This information includes staffing level expenses, revenue generated from the programs, waivers, scholarships, graduate assistantships and more.

“I think there is a concern in the senate that really impactful changes could be made to the university without people having a chance to thoroughly review the data,” Robertson said.

Glassman has said the profit-loss sheets are going under review by the office of business affairs and they should be available next week.

Jon Blitz, president of Eastern’s chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois, said he was denied access to the profit-loss sheets a couple of months ago.

He said people were wondering how much importance these profit-loss sheets will take on as the university and workgroups decide what to change about programs and services.

“The concern is that these profit-loss statements will be used as a cudgel to beat these departments that aren’t making a profit over the head or maybe even cut them and that would be a shame,” Blitz said.

He explained that though some programs might not make as much of a profit as others, they are still needed to maintain a university and its academics.

The EIU-UPI will also discuss the Vitalization Project at their executive board meeting. The process for the two groups will be different as unlike the Faculty Senate, the EIU-UPI is not a shared governance organization, Blitz said. Rather, they have an interest seeing that the process is done fairly and transparently while making sure their members are protected. Now that more of the specifics of the project have been unveiled there are other things people are talking about beyond the possibility of cuts, such as departmental reorganizations, Blitz said.

Glassman said the numbers on the profit-loss sheets are now being double-checked for accuracy. When they are available, he said, they could be accessed by the data link on the same webpage that the Vitalization Project is on.

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