FaCET elimination would reduce resources for WKU instructors

Tessa Duvall

For more than 20 years, through a name change and a relocation, the Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching has existed to help with the mission of enhancing the quality of teaching at WKU.

If the Board of Regents approves $2.1 million in budget reductions at the quarterly meeting on June 21, including the $202,000 budget line for FaCET, the center will be eliminated.

FaCET Director Sally Kuhlenschmidt said she first learned of the proposal to eliminate FaCET about three weeks ago, which brought her “tremendous sadness.”

According to the vision statement of FaCET, “FaCET’s purpose is to advance the University community’s commitment to excellence in teaching and engagement in learning through exemplary ideas, activities, and resources.”

Kuhlenschmidt said this is accomplished by working with anyone who provides instruction at WKU, including graduate students, instructors and professors of any level. FaCET provides seminars on how to keep teaching skills current, best utilize technology in the classroom and providing other resources to instructors.

“They won’t have somebody to help when they have a sticky plagiarism case,” Kuhlenschmidt said of the center’s elimination. “They won’t have someone to get an outside view of the design of their course.”

President Gary Ransdell said the administrative council believes that the graduate-level support system the unit provides can be sustained through the graduate school.

Additionally, Ransdell said that individual colleges can provide professional development on an as-needed basis.

Kuhlenschmidt said that for instructors who teach face-to-face classes, there will be less help available to consult on planning a course, dealing with student problems, encouraging retention and on helping students learn more effectively.

Distance Learning will provide help to instructors of online courses, International Programs will help specifically within its domain and Academic Technology will help teach instructors how to use technology, Kuhlenschmidt said. However, this still leaves a large void for a number of instructors and situations.

Of the four full-time employees at FaCET, none are losing their jobs. Two staff members will be shifted to another department on campus. One faculty member is retiring, and that position will remain unfilled. Kuhlenschmidt, the FaCET director for about 20 years, said she is being shifted to another department as well, although she hasn’t decided where she will work yet.

“It feels like my child was killed,” she said. “That’s why I’m taking it slowly. I’m not rushing into any decisions.”

There is also a part-time employee who has yet to find a position as well.

Since the announcement of the proposed elimination of FaCET, Kuhlenschmidt said there has a been a huge outpouring of support, for which she is very appreciative. There has even been the creation of “Save WKU’s FaCET” Facebook page, which had 21 likes as of Monday afternoon.

Kuhlenschmidt said she does not know what will happen to the FaCET building, located at 1783 Chestnut Street.