Faculty to be realigned

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By EVAN PAPPAS, staff reporter

 

The Provost’s Office was hit with a roadblock in their faculty realignment process last week after the Academic Department Chairs Organization advised faculty not to take part in the process, causing the provost to make various changes.

This past year, Provost Marilyn Levine has gone to each department to discuss its operations, and she has realized that some departments are having issues with balancing out the amount of students per class.

This led Levine to start the process of realigning faculty positions between departments. The realignment project would only affect three to five faculty members, she said.

Last week, an open work session was scheduled by the Provost’s Office inviting faculty to participate. This session was for faculty to determine which departments need a larger staff and which ones can spare a position.

“I just want a transparent, open process where we all look at the same data,” Levine said. “I wanted to share the data so it wasn’t done in the dark.”

Unfortunately for the provost, the ADCO did not feel comfortable with the process and recommended faculty and staff to not participate in the ranking process.

ADCO put out an open letter on Central’s website regarding the realignment process stating that “ADCO is unable to fully endorse this process at this time” and that the data would provide an incomplete picture of departments.

Physics Professor Michael Jackson, chair of ADCO, said the process of ranking is what ADCO disagreed with, not the entire concept the provost put forward.

“Because of that we felt very uneasy about people ranking things, ranking departments, and so what we would prefer that they did is help everyone gather information,” Jackson said.

Faculty Senate also did not participate in the process. The executive committee decided to join ADCO in abstaining from this process.

Ian Loverro, associate education professor and member of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, said he was uncomfortable with a process that would have faculty pointing fingers at each other.

“For me to be asked to single out other departments for cuts didn’t seem appropriate, it felt a little bit like ‘Survivor,’” Loverro said.

Jackson emphasized that ADCO was not opposed to the realignment because they thought it would be bad for the university, but was opposed to  the ranking process that was to be used.

“It’s not as if we were asking people to shun it because the administration is doing something so terribly naughty that they should have their wrist slapped,” Jackson said. “I think quite the contrary. I think the university has listened to faculty and staff concerns and they are trying to go ahead and find a resolution to a situation that is really challenging.”

The notion of possibly incorrect or flawed information was enough to make ADCO want a revision to the process that this project will use.

“We also didn’t want to make a rush to judgment even if it was perceived to be flawed even to a small extent because then people will have biases and that leads to conclusions ‘Well I heard this’ and ‘I assumed this,’” Jackson said.

Bob Hickey, professor of geography and president of the United Faculty of Central, echoed Jackson’s statements when he said the original process used flawed data.

“I think that the data set that was used was incomplete and not reflective of what faculty and departments do,” Hickey said. “For example it looked at student and faculty numbers, it didn’t look at research, it didn’t look at grants, it didn’t look at service, it didn’t look at publications.”

After hearing the feedback from ADCO and Faculty Senate, Levine said she has reworked the process into something she believes can address the concerns.

Department chairs are being asked to provide corrections and additional data t to associate deans by May 13, after which the data will be reorganized and be sent out to the deans, associate deans, Faculty Senate Chair Melody Madlem, and ADCO Chair Jackson.

After that, contextual and qualitative information will be gathered from the department chairs, Levine said.

Levine said the students are the main focus of all this. Their success is the end goal.

“I think our number one consideration is student success and positioning ourselves to serve the students well,” Levine said.

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