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Faculty Senate urges future collaboration with administration

In wake of the recent cuts of 40 faculty, members of Faculty Senate pushed for transparency from the administration and a rationale for the decision.

During its first meeting of the semester on Tuesday, senate members also expressed a desire to work closer with the administration on these decisions in the future.

One way they did this was by passing a resolution.

The resolution, read by Peter Blass of the Chemistry Department, cites a net loss of more than 100 faculty within two academic years as cause for “deep concern about the impact of faculty reductions upon the educational quality and mission of the University,” according to the resolution.

The resolution urged the administration not to cut faculty further and to work with the senate to “articulate … a vision of an effective educational environment.”

The resolution further requests the administration present a “clear and compelling” case about its budgetary instability, revealing financial data. This request references administrators’ reiteration of an expected budget shortfall of up to $10 million in coming years, which a number of faculty claim has not been backed up as of yet.

Some of the questions posed in the resolution may have been answered, though, when Mike Schultz, chair of senate’s Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee, presented a committee report on the financial state of the University.

“One of the charges of our committee is trying to figure out how the financial situation effects our educational priorities,” said Schultz, an instructor in General Studies Writing.

State funding for for the University for fiscal year 2013 was a little over $71 million, a loss of a little over $3 million since fiscal year 2012, according to the report.

Since 2009, the University has seen a loss of $30 million in state funding. The projected total of state funding for 2015 is $60 million, according to the report.

The University has also seen a decline in its own funds.

Fall 2013 enrollment was down 280 since 2012, while the University’s goal was 3,600, a loss of $500,000, according to the report. Estimated enrollment in 2015 is 16,800, down from 19,108 in 2007.

The retention rate from 2012 to 2013 was 71 percent, a loss of $750,000.

“I don’t think there’s a good enough understanding of how money can be spent at the University,” Schultz said. “What it’s going to come down to is how decisions are made with what money we have.”

The presentation aimed to repair the damaged morale among faculty following the 40 cuts, and perhaps encourage the University President Mary Ellen Mazey and other administrators to be more communicative about the rational for their decisions.

“All of these things are confusing at once and it creates an environment where people want to come out swining,” Schultz said.

Schultz also emphasized the importance of considering student perception of the University. He asked Alex Solis, Undergraduate Student Government, what his perception of student attitudes about the faculty cuts and financial situation is.

Solis approximated that 10 percent know and 2 percent “really know.” But, “they definitely recognize the current climate,” Solis said.

Schultz encouraged the senate to think about one question: “What do I value about what I do at BGSU?”

The report identified the University as having the lowest faculty to student ratio in the state. Senate member Allen Rogel, instructor in Physics and Astronomy, called for one more statistic: the faculty to administration ratio.

“That is one of the things that could help our morale,” Rogel said, before adding, “or hurt it.”

Other items of note:

The senate passed charter revisions to Senate Executive Committee meeting participation rules. The addition extends an invitation to the senate committee chairs of Amendments and Bylaws, Academic Affairs, Professional Affairs and Fiscal Affairs. These members will not have voting rights.

Also approved are two graduate certificate programs in the School of Media and Communications.

The first is in social and interactive media and the second is in international/intercultural communication. Comprised of 15 credit hours, the program is stand-alone for those already admitted in the graduate college, but can be pursued as part of an MA or Ph.D.

The senate also passed a memorial resolution in honor of Jeffrey Wagner, who passed away on July 8. Wagner was an associate professor of astronomy and geology at Firelands.

The senate “acknowledge[s] with sadness the death of Jeffrey Wagner and convey to his surviving family members its collective appreciation and gratitude for Jeffrey’s outstanding and dedicated service to [the University],” reads the resolution.

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