Faculty, administration continue to work toward resolution following employment concerns

Provost Terry Ballman attends her first faculty senate meeting on Thursday, Aug 23 at the Faculty House.

Emily DeLetter

Members of the WKU faculty and staff are continuing efforts to address the administration following events that took place during the Fall 2018 semester.

In December 2018, full-time, non-tenure eligible faculty were originally notified they would receive a letter notifying them of termination or rehire. Provost Terry Ballman retracted the statement in an email to all faculty Dec. 5.

In the email, Ballman cited a decline in tuition dollars, scheduling methods and the Comprehensive Academic Program Evaluation as reasons why the university does not fully know WKU’s instructional needs and costs for the 2019-20 academic year and thus why the letters wouldn’t be sent on time. She also apologized for the “unnecessary alarm, hurt, consternation and frustration” the original announcement had caused.

At a meeting with the Herald editorial board on Friday, President Timothy Caboni said the purpose of CAPE is not to reduce faculty but rather to take a closer look at what WKU is offering and the demand for programs.

“We have to figure out as an institution how we take our scarce resources and deploy them where we’re going to be most successful as a university,” Caboni said. “Doing that requires difficult conversations.”

The Senate Executive Committee held an emergency meeting Dec. 6 to address WKU’s Academic Affairs Policy 1.2000 and to draft a resolution. This policy requires that any full-time, non-tenure eligible faculty be notified by WKU by Dec. 15 if they will not be rehired for the following academic year.

The resolution presented by the SEC at the December University Senate meeting read, “The proposal to both change and violate the spirit of an employment protection policy for faculty in the middle of the academic year was an egregious action by the university’s administration that has rightfully resulted in frustration and erosion of trust in the administration amongst all faculty. There is a need for a strong statement of support for non-tenure eligible faculty from the administration.”

The Senate passed the resolution.

Conversations concerning the faculty’s overall role and power making changes through administration are still a topic of conversation. A meeting was held Friday by two University Senate committees to discuss viable ways to shift such power structures in the future.

Faculty Welfare chair Lauren McClain and Academic Quality chair Heather Strode led the meeting between the two committees. McClain said she and Strode decided to have the joint meeting after the emergency SEC meeting in December.

“A lot of people expressed a lot of ideas, and we thought the best way going forward was to have our two committees work together on expectations for faculty administration communications,” McClain said.

The committees have planned more meetings during the semester to discuss further communications between the faculty and administration.

Assistant News Editor Emily DeLetter can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @emilydeletter.