Faculty Senate approves document analyzing Workgroup recommendations

Cassie Buchman, News Editor

The Faculty Senate voted to approve a document analyzing Workgroup No. 7’s vitalization project recommendations at its meeting Tuesday.

During the vote, the senate factored in that comments and suggestions will be taken in, and revision of the document would occur before it was formally turned in.

Faculty Senate chair Jemmie Robertson said the report would be sent to the Board of Trustees, Eastern President David Glassman and Provost Blair Lord before spring break.

The report was written by an ad hoc committee meant to review the recommendations of Workgroup No. 7, which suggested the elimination or consolidation of the undergraduate programs in philosophy, career and technical education, Africana studies and adult and community education.

Robertson said the committee drew its own conclusions with data provided from the administration and responses from departments.

Senate member Teshome Abebe said the subcommittee did a wonderful job evaluating the programs.

While Workgroup No. 7 evaluated the programs as they were, he said, the review done by the committee helps anticipate the future.

“In that sense it is more robust and useful,” he said.

However, Abebe was critical of what he called an “almost apologetic” tone in the report.

“They’ve been very careful, too careful in stating the obvious,” he said. “…I say that because we have been told by the faculty that the process was wrong – the faculty said so – we have said that to the president a number of times.”

Abebe said the fact that the process was bad is why the review of the recommendations was done in the first place.

“Please don’t talk to me about assuaging somebody’s feelings when you submit the document to them, because I am more concerned about the feelings of my colleagues that have been going through a ringer as a result of a bad process,” Abebe said.

Senate member Sue Gosse had concerns with calling the process good or bad, as she said doing so would place moral judgments on a process that was not the Senate’s.

“We have the right, we have the responsibility to respond to the process, but I hesitate to put the good, the bad; that’s what puts the barriers up,” she said.

Senate member Jeff Stowell said the senate has the responsibility to submit a report that would reflect a majority of the group, and he raised the question of why “we are in this mess to begin with.”

“It wasn’t our fault; if we had the funding from the state, we would be continuing on,” he said.

Stowell said the constraints the university was given would not allow it to continue as it always has, but maybe it could consider reallocating resources, which could be done in a different way besides elimination.

“Any process, no matter how it was done, if it ended with academic programs being eliminated or reorganized, there would be pushback,” he said. “Is there any process we would be happy with if there was elimination? I doubt it.”

Still, Stowell said the report is well written and reflects what the senate thinks it should do.

“From a larger perspective, this whole year’s been so reactionary; it’s been so unpleasant to have to go through this process,” he said.

Senate member Billy Hung said Stowell was right, but he pointed out that even under constraints there are better and worse ways to go about change.

A better way to do it would be with more openness and transparency, Hung said, as well as a more consistent evaluation system.

Senate member CC Wharram said the change he made to the report is to highlight that the Africana studies program is in the process of working with others and making transformations.

“These changes should be allowed to take place organically,” he said.

Wharram said eliminating philosophy and Africana studies would not end up freeing up a lot of revenue for reallocation.

“If, for example, philosophy disappears, a lot of minor programs, major programs depend on those classes,” he said.

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