Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Faculty Senate held special meeting

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Faculty Senate held a special meeting Nov. 28 to address and identify steps to improve shared governance, communication and faculty morale. President Carlos Vargas attended the second half of the meeting to speak in response to an internal poll initiated by the Executive Committee of Faculty Senate.

According to Faculty Senate chair David Powell, about 34 percent of faculty responded to the internal poll, which was carried out between the months of September and October. Powell said the poll was one step toward developing an action plan.

The Nov. 28 meeting began with a dialogue between senate members and Provost Tammy Randolph who represents the upper administration at every Faculty Senate meeting. A primary concern among the senators was winter course load and “rumors” surrounding cancellation of some winter courses.

Randolph said although she looked into the success rates and number of students in all winter courses none were cancelled by the provost. Instead, department chairs are responsible for class cancellation. Randolph said fifty winter courses are considered “low-enrolled,” meaning 15 or less undergraduate or 12 graduate students.

Among the most heavily discussed topics was communication between faculty and the upper administration. Associate professor of mathematics Peter Oman said communication seems to have gotten worse recently. In response, the provost reiterated that the line of communication from her office is dean of college to department chair to faculty members.

“What I think is open and honest may not be communicated the best all the way down,” Randolph said.

The meeting then turned to the subject of former tenure track lines for faculty members that have been switched to non-tenure track. Seventy-five percent to 25 percent tenure to non-tenure is the minimum ratio set by Academic Affairs but the agenda is advocating to lower that percentage according to faculty members.

When president Vargas addressed the Senate he said his administration is continually working to improve health care benefits for faculty members and encourage healthy habits. The future, he said, will depend on state appropriations to the budget and student enrollment.