The University Senate met on Thursday for its monthly meeting. During the meeting, the senate discussed the effectiveness of Student Input to Teaching Evaluations and a report from the Budget and Finance Committee.
The SITE report, compiled and presented by the Academic Quality Committee, discussed the timing, interpretation and formatting of the SITEs.
Included in the report were two recommendations. The first recommended “the SITE booklet be resurrected and regularly maintained within the Faculty Senate and in consultation with WKU Academic Affairs” and WKU Institutional Research, according to the report.
The second recommendation suggested the SITE report format be changed to “include sufficient data and instructions so that statistically equivalent (or distinct) response values can be easily identified,” according to the report.
After lengthy discussion, the Senate passed a motion asking the Academic Quality Committee to reconsider the timing of SITE reports in light of faculty discussion and feedback from the meeting.
Professor and journalism coordinator Mac McKerral, speaking on behalf of the Academic Quality Committee, said the discussion of SITEs is ongoing within the committee, who is working to develop guidelines all departments could use.
“The discussion of SITEs is not dead within Academic Quality,” McKerral said.
The Budget and Finance Committee report examined WKU budgets from the 2003-2004 budget to January 2016. The committee examined salaries, enrollment, tuition, athletics and State General Fund Appropriations. The report concluded with a statement of its findings:
“The budget numbers show that Academics have not been a priority in the WKU budgeting process. This does not mean there is less money for instruction. Academics has seen its budget expand at a rate that should have allowed Academic Affairs to increase the budget directly used for instruction to keep up with enrollment increases and inflation.”
We ask that at the very least this cut be distributed more proportionally, with Academic Affairs (excluding Enrollment Management) absorbing no more than 50% of the cut.
Additionally, the Budget and Finance Committee presented a resolution to go along with the report.
“In the coming fiscal year WKU anticipates a significant cut to our state funding,” the committee stated in its resolution. “We ask that at the very least this cut be distributed more proportionally, with Academic Affairs (excluding Enrollment Management) absorbing no more than 50% of the cut.”
In 2015, Academic Affairs absorbed 70 percent of the $7.9 million that WKU reallocated, losing over $5.5 million, according to the report. The resolution presented on Thursday would prevent a cut of that size from happening a second year in a row and prevent cuts from Academic Affairs being greater than 50 percent of the budget reallocations.
“It’s not been usual in the past that we’ve absorbed a large percentage,” Provost David Lee said of cuts to Academic Affairs.
Along with the resolution and report, the Budget and Finance Committee presented four recommendations for discussion. The Senate conducted an informal poll at the meeting and asked the Budget and Finance Committee to investigate the first recommendation, which called for “a university-wide assessment of every unit” at WKU.
Additionally, the senate was updated on the Presidential Selection Committee. Barbara Burch, faculty regent, said the search committee had signed a confidentiality agreement but would have meetings open to the public. She also emphasized the importance of faculty input in the process.
“The search committee and really the whole board is committed to inclusion,” Burch said during the meeting.