Ohio University Board of Trustees Chair Janetta King and Vice Chair Dave Scholl opened November’s Faculty Senate meeting by fielding questions about research and the budget.
King and Scholl facilitated a conversation with faculty about the gap between OU’s aspirations and budget cuts. Afterward, committees presented updates and first readings of three resolutions. Faculty members commented and asked questions about the Board’s commitment to research and how the budget influences the academic vision of OU.
“In point of the financial struggles we are going through, there’s a lot of aspirational rhetoric about our core,” Eric Stinaff said. “A lot of (the budget cuts are) amputational, so I think part of the problem is this overall feeling of disconnect between what we are hearing in terms of the aspirations and what we’re feeling in terms of the financial reality.”
Although King encouraged faculty to “be vocal” during the budget process, Kenneth Hicks said faculty feel that they are not being listened to because although discussion appears to take place, decisions made at a “higher level” often do not reflect faculty input.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat this. The hard decisions are ahead but we want to be a little bit more thoughtful on what makes sense to put forth as goals and the vision and to not undermine that,” King said. “I can only encourage you to please be vocal and participate.”
The board is uncomfortable continuing to spend the amount they are spending now because reserves must be used “wisely,” Scholl said.
Interim Vice President and Provost David Descutner updated faculty on employee recruitment efforts and committee chairs updated Faculty Senate on resolutions they are working on.
The Educational Policy and Student Affairs Committee gave a presentation on the history and purpose of Reading Day, OU’s alternative to a fall break, which has provoked discontent among some faculty.
“There are some concerns if (Reading Day) has been implemented the same way it was initially intended,” Chris Schwirian said.
One of the first readings was on a sense-of-the-senate resolution about the teaching breakdown among faculty.
Promotion and Tenure committee and the Professional Relations committee presented that resolution, which addresses negotiation of workload percentages among Group I and Group II faculty.
“This is an attempt to say let’s have some ideas for stopping the erosion of tenure the best we can,” Promotion and Tenure committee Chair Sherrie Gradin said. “The cuts we’re facing in the next few years are pretty steep, pretty rough and we’re going to be leaner ... and meaner and that we’re going to have to do more with less.”
As a sense-of-the-senate resolution, it does not go to the provost’s office. That resolution is more of a “value statement,” Faculty Senate Chair Joe McLaughlin said.
As Descutner was speaking, Bernhard Debatin told him that the revision of the interim “Freedom of Expression” policy is “Orwellian” because the group to revise the policy is made up of seven administrators, two faculty members and one student.
The group will meet tomorrow to begin revising the policy.