FACULTY SENATE MINUTES
FOR APRIL 13, 1999
(Vol. xxviii, No. 26)
SENATE SPRING FORUM
I. Call to order by James Tidwell at 2:05 PM (Buzzard Auditorium)
Present: J. Allison, J.Best, J. Coons, C. Eberly, P. Fewell, N. Furumo, G. Foster, R. Gholson, B. Irwin, G. Lockart, J. Tidwell, M. Toosi, L. Walker, A. Zahlan. Excused: N. Marlow.
Guests: C. Surles, T. Abebe, A. Baharlou, J. Lynch, J. Johnson, G. Aylesworth, D. Broline, N. Small, C. Delman, D. Schneider, J. Henderson, G. White, R. Roberts, C. Helwig, A. Lanham, R. Benedict, R. Wittenbarger, L. Coon, G. Mason, J. Ozier, J. Marquardt, K. Ford, C. Cooper, R. Augustine, M.A. Hanner, L. Wall, W. Weber, J. Abell, J. Nilsen, K. Franken, R. Wandling, E. Karbassioon, D. Wolski, W. Hine, E. Hitch, M. Francis, M. Olsen, C. Evans, J. Ivarie, T. Ivarie, S. Scher, K. Kohanzo, M. Harris, F. McCormick, D. Raybin
II. Motion (Foster / Gholson) to nominate Gail Lockart and Mori Toosi as Senate Representatives to the Achievement and Contribution Awards Committee. Yes: Allison, Coons, Eberly, Fewell, Foster, Furumo, Gholson, Irwin, Lockart, Tidwell, Toosi, Walker, Zahlan.
III. Announcements. Tuesday April 20 and 4 PM, the senate will hold its annual reception for retirees in the Rathskeller Balcony. All are invited to attend.
IV. SPRING FORUM
Chair Tidwell welcomed those in attendance and reviewed the topic of the forum: The Quality of Education at Eastern--The Role of the Faculty. The following statements and comments were made by faculty in attendance.
Most of our discussion today will focus on extrinsic factors that affect our jobs, but we should also think about the intrinsic. We need to consider what we can do for each other and for ourselves: collaboration in research and teaching, sharing service responsibilities, better publicizing the good work we do. We cannot be dependent on the administration for everything. Each of us is ultimately responsible for what happens in our classes. Morale and communication can be improved on campus through more use of listservs like that set up by UPI and by having a meeting place for informal gatherings of faculty.
We're very good at what we do. Anyone serving on UPC can see the quality of the faculty on campus. We don't always see it collectively, but we're all working very hard. Being an educator is like being a pastor or lawyer; others see us only when we're in class and don't realize the hours behind the scenes. Suggestions for the senate: publicize elections and do more to encourage participation, publicize who is running so that potential candidates can make better informed decisions. Senate should recruit outside its own members for faculty to serve on task forces, search committees, etc.
Listservs are a phenomenal way to communicate. We can discuss teaching, research this way. We should also share DACs, assessments tools so that each department does not have to recreate these things from scratch.
Administration controls certain aspects of our jobs; we control others. We spend a lot of time on things other than what we do so well. can the administration decide what paperwork is truly essential. Everyone wants things done and we end up doing it all. For example, the Women's Resource Center will probably not have G.A. support next year; we can document all the good the center does, but we may lose staffing regardless.
Research is important to quality. We need a broader of vision of what EIU could be. We need to teach our students to think like mathematicians, like artists, and we can only do so if we are active scholars ourselves. Can one teach music without ever playing an instrument? Students learn by doing; it's exciting to include them in original research. An example of student excellence can be seen in the graduate art exposition at Tarble. Faculty should be involved in the admissions process to help find motivated, creative students. Faculty need time to pursue research. An active researcher should be able to teach 18 hours or less. We need to get rid of waste, to consider what types of remediation can be eliminated, what courses can be taught in larger sections with G.A.'s helping out. a 24 cu minimum may be efficient in the short term but devastating long term; it will lead to a decrease in quality. EIU is not primarily a research institution but research is key if we want to be a liberal arts and sciences school that produces excellent teachers. We must listen to each other, prepare students for the issues they will confront in the classroom and in the world of work.
We must consider quality of life for faculty. Many of our colleagues are leaving. English will have lost 10% of its tenured/tenure-track faculty this year. Music has lost 40%; non-tenured faculty are now in the majority in music. Education departments are in a catastrophic free fall. There is an apparent move in the Academics Affairs office to increase workloads by one third. The results could be disastrous. Students see the results of overwork in the faculty. They are losing thesis directors; some courses are not being offered; others are taught by G.A.s. The sick-leave pay out has been devastating, especially when some are retiring early. We need more support for travel, computers. We need to put more emphasis on excellence in teaching. Faculty need to be consulted more by administration; there needs to be more faculty involvement in university ceremonies and events. Otherwise, EIU may lose its place in the state.
The faculty senate can do a better job. We are trying to do so and encourage more input from the rest of the faculty. Perhaps a senate-oriented listserv would be a good idea. The senate needs to receive more communication from faculty. This year the senate has focused on academic issues, passing motions regarding Unit A/Unit B proportions, a larger Academic Affairs budget, facilities planning surcharges to academic department. The senate continues to address faculty concerns. A survey will come out early in fall or perhaps yet this semester.
At one time faculty were advocates for students. The flow of information and action was from the students to the faculty to the administration. Now it seems that flow has reversed itself. We seem to spend more time delivering bad news to students: "we can't do this"; "we have to do that." We need to reverse the flow back to the way it used to be.
A personal case study. When a faculty member first came she was enthusiastic about teaching and innovative, creating study abroad opportunities and using technology in class. Doing research created excitement which then could be shared with students. Now she awaits retirement. She cannot teach four classes a term because teaching takes time. She will not do service next year in order to carve out a little time for research. EIU should look more like UIUC and less like Lakeland. Prospective students get flier from schools: some advertise themselves as fun; others demand respect. We need to be the latter.
The teaching load in elementary education has recently gotten down to 24 cus. The faculty also supervise student teachers. Each semester faculty members must sacrifice research or service just to keep up in the other two areas. When faculty are more experienced and have more to say in their research, the are so busy with other commitments that they do not have the time to publish.
We need more recruitment monies for faculty and students. One of the MA programs in history is very specialized and the faculty need to go to conferences and place ads in expensive journals to recruit the best students. We get excellent students by word of mouth, but that is an inefficient way of recruiting. We also need recruitment monies for faculty. by the time the money comes through, it's too late in the academic year to get the best candidates.
A new faculty member sees some bright spots. We have excellent students and we can get to know them. She has felt welcome in the department, college of education, and university. The library and media center have been accommodating. There are concerns, however. We need to continue to recruit good faculty. A quality institution needs quality salaries. We earn less than some public school teachers, but we come here for research opportunities.
A chair suggested faculty should consider when appropriate forwarding listserv discussions to chairs. We are an excellent institution, 47th in the US and 35 in the midwest, 2nd in state in graduate and retention rates. Look at the glass as half full. In college of sciences, chairs are encourage to give appropriate loads, less teaching to more active researchers. We're not sure where rumors about increased workloads have been coming from. The college also had the best voter turnout in the recent faculty elections. We have a union faculty; they have control over hiring and promotion. There is a problem with surcharges. Maybe academic department should start charging others for services. The administration is not requiring more service; faculty are asking to share in governance, and that takes work and time. This is as good as it gets in higher education. We have flexible schedules and should be looking at the good things.
A faculty member commented that he still does research because he cannot imagine not doing it. He's doing too much service because he doesn't say "no" often enough. Even some English faculty are leaving for salaries $20,000 higher. Teaching is still an exciting endeavor. Meeting a new class is always a wonderful experience, but if more teaching is required, he will not be able to spend more time and will just go through the motions.
Most education faculty teach 24 cus a year because of numbers of students. The dean has worked to get faculty down to that level. The college is working on a student selection process that will reduce numbers. EIU grew quickly in the 70's and now faculty are retiring and those left are feeling abandoned. One education department has gone from 8 tenured/tenured track faculty to 4. Four people now must do all the service. Those retiring have been mainstays of the department. Will new hires stay as long as those that are now retiring? Uncertainty breeds fear. Personnel changes at all levels of the university have created uncertainty.
The Women's Advocacy Council has been looking for an associate chair. A dozen people have turned it down because of the fear that the administrative cu's for the chair will no longer be there when they take on that post. The anxiety and fear over workloads is serious.
A senior faculty member remembered the excitement she felt when she came, but she, too, is feeling the line of flow from the top down is impeding quality and eroding morale. She feels now that she is here to support the administration; the paperwork and jumping through hoops seem to have the priority. We should all be working for the students. As a faculty member in her 11th year, she will have 4 new preparations next year because of faculty erosion in biological sciences. She will take these classes for the sake of the students, but research will have to be put aside.
Only a few of our students will become academics. We need to cater to all 7 intelligences, not just the academic. We need to help our students manage their emotions. If they do not have their emotions under control, they will not be able to control their academics. We need to make our problems into challenges and try to solve them. UIUC should not be our model; perhaps we are the ideal. we take students with less obvious potential than those who attend U of I, but our graduation and retention rates are comparable. We should turn fear into opportunity and frame what we do in new ways. We can be better teachers if we visit residence halls and see how our students live. It's easy to work with honors students because they are more like us, but we need to do more to understand all our students. The campus is ringed by bars, creating an alcohol problem. Alcohol abuse in turn affects student performance. Students who are involved in campus activities spend more time studying. Many students spend the majority of time in chats rooms, watching TV or playing video games. We need to find ways to address these issues.
A student appreciated the opportunity to address the forum. There needs to be more accountability by the administration. Some administrators do not even follow their strategic plan. For example, strategic planning, external review, and many constituencies identified an independent Botany program as an aspect of quality at EIU, but these assessments and recommendations were ignored. we're losing our uniqueness. Faculty have been chastised for speaking out.
We cannot measure quality until we know what we are trying to achieve. Michigan State, UIUC are not our models. we should be more like Williams, Oberlin, William and Mary. We're public, larger, and less selective, but we can do more to approach the liberal arts model. Doing independent study with students created an environment like a liberal arts college, but it takes time. One can do this kind of teaching and still do research if one cuts back on sleep. How are we achieving our retention rate? Are our students intellectually capable and challenged to think? How do we assess? How can we do it cost-effectively? We need to aspire to the smaller model.
We can improve communication across the disciplines through fora like this and last week's contract convention. Those who come out to these events recognize that community includes teaching and research and service. Being a member of this community requires that one attends meetings like this. Look around, only about 10% of faculty are here, and it's always the same people. We've heard some great ideas here, even if we don't agree with them. It's a shame more people aren't present to hear them. The faculty senate puts forth a lot of effort, but it can only be successful if it can work with the administration. Past administrations have ignored the faculty senate, but we're not going to have this in the future. The future is brighter.
One faculty member came to Eastern because she was tired of seeing students graduate into the working world who did not have sufficient skills, especially in writing and thinking. She wanted to do better, but she still feels our students are leaving ill-prepared. She hasn't achieved what she wanted to. she often comes in on weekends and sees most of her colleagues in the office as well. We are encouraging an anti-wellness, dysfunctional life and modeling it for our students. We need to start these discussions in smaller groups. Many of our colleagues have shut out fora, meetings. We're bitter and burned out. We working under a data-driven model, our administrators are asked for more and more data from the IBHE and legislature and they in turn ask it of us. We do need a meeting place on campus.
A faculty member asked for clarification on the workload question from the Provost.
Chair Tidwell asked the Provost and President to make comments on the discussion.
Provost Abebe thanked those in attendance and thanked President Surles for adjusting her schedule to attend the forum. Sometimes faculty believe the administration to be smarter than they are. When the provost first heard the workload rumors he tried to track them down. Apparently, they came from a misunderstanding and misapplication of something that was said in a workshop in response to a case study. The administration has listened to the faculty views and there is no policy to increase workload. the data support the faculty position on Unit A / Unit B proportions. The hiring this year was negatively affected by three factors: sick-leave pay outs, repaying borrowed monies, and previous personnel commitments which were made without adequate funding being in place. The VPAA had to ask for debt relief from the President and in return instituted a plan whereby no one would be hired with out money in place for the sick leave buyout. There has been no borrowing this year and monies have been put toward future sick-leave buy-outs, so there should be fewer problems in the future. The administration has been improving communication with the faculty. the administration is doing the best it can considering how underfunded Eastern is.
Regarding G.A.'s, we're trying to increase stipends to attract better students. That means there have to be fewer stipends, however, because there are no new monies. When new people come into the institution, they see situations with a fresh eye and see what is not working and recommend change. Maybe some changes are not being communicated well, but administrators are hired to lead. Just as administrators cannot guarantee success, faculty cannot assume failure. We have a happy student body; the staff and faculty do well here. EIU has great potential but we need a positive attitude to realize this.
President Surles thanked the senate for inviting her. She did not want to turn the meeting into an administrators forum but did want to make a few remarks. She knows she came to the right place; the core values of the faculty are the same as hers. The students are happy and involved. We need to build a community of scholarship. We do not have a meeting place yet, but we can build community while we try to find one. Both president and provost are surprised to hear rumors about workload, but she always worries when she hears workload discussions on campus during a legislative session. We do not want to give them the wrong ideas. The president's council will be looking at the chargeback/surcharge issue. Some of these things should be paid from the top of the budget so that it does not have to come out of department budgets later. EIU has inadequate resources, and we're making progress, but we cannot recoup 10 years of losses in one legislative session. President Surles has been to Springfield twice and is returning next week, trying to restore what legislature has suggested cutting from our budget. We're hearing good things about Eastern in the halls of the capitol. One legislator calls us the "heart of the midwest."
The President is distressed to hear about drinking problems among students. She will work with faculty and student life staff on this issue. The smoking rate is also a concern. she'd like to see some of the smoking tax revenues coming to the universities. The 9 traits and abilities we identify as part of our Core are admirable goals. We must keep in mind that we won't see the outcomes immediately. Our students' thinking skills develop over a lifetime. Our intrinsic motivations for coming to this career are key. We touch lives. The work of the scholar is to search for truth, and we should do that both in class and out. Arguments are fine as long as they're polite. The educated mind monitors itself. It's good to see junior and senior faculty working together. Much of this discussion is going on across the country; all universities are going through the growing pains of a mature industry. We need to look at what is essential and what can be changed. Fora like this are valuable, but we need to bring more people in to the discussion. The communication needs to flow not only across levels of the university, but within levels--then we will be actualizing the mission of the university.
An example: The president has become herself deeply introspective about the Balkans. Should we be doing more as individuals and as a university? Should we be asking more questions?
V. Adjourn (Walker) 4:10.
Senate Vice-Chair & Acting Recorder