University Senate passes resolution addressing administration over letters of termination to instructors

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

Emily DeLetter

Provost Terry Ballman apologized to faculty for her response to WKU’s Academic Affairs Policy 1.2000 during the University Senate meeting Thursday.

In a statement to faculty, Ballman said responding to the policy “en masse” was not the appropriate thing to do.  The policy requires full-time, non-tenure eligible faculty to be notified by Dec. 15 if they are not to be rehired for the following academic year. 

“I now understand that to properly implement any such policy dealing with the people, we have to take the time to have careful analysis and discussions,” she said. “In spite of hearing that most colleagues would be hired back, overall what was heard was not my attempt to respond to a policy, but rather my insensitivity for the people addressed in that policy.” 

Ballman apologized to faculty and took full responsibility, and said she sincerely regretted the “alarm, hurt and frustration” that was caused. 

Geology Instructor Margaret Crowder said she understands that WKU has budget issues, and would like to see “everything on the table” when it comes to evaluating things that could be cut in the future.

 “One of the things my colleagues and I would like to see is athletics brought to the table, and that athletics be included in the [Resource Allocation Management and Planning] RAMP model,” Crowder said. “Why is athletics not on the table when our mission is academics?” 

The Senate also discussed a resolution passed by the Senate Executive Committee (SEC) during an emergency meeting last Thursday. 

Department of Communication Instructor Donna Schiess said she felt betrayed and devalued when she learned last week of the letters that were to be sent to all instructors.

“I realized that possibly part of the problem is a lack of understanding of the bedrock that teaching instructors provide to the university,” Schiess said. “Instructors have always been the workhorses of the departments, carrying heavy loads without the distraction of research, committee work and full-time jobs.”

Journalism professor Mac McKerral said he supported the resolution and that its intentions were strong.

“The resolution does not necessarily reflect the level of anger and frustration that the letter issue caused,” he said. “It does not address a more serious issue, and that’s a consistent pattern on the part of the post-Ransdell administration to solve the WKU budget crisis by focusing on the academic affairs budget.” 

The Senate voted and passed the resolution.

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