Board of Trustees Remarks

Marianna Walker, Chair of the Faculty

November 19, 2010



Good morning!  I bring you greetings from the faculty. I would like to recognize my faculty leadership team – Vice Chair – Dr. Mark Sprague (Physics) , Secretary – Mr. Hunt McKinnon (Interior Design and Merchandising), and Parliamentarian – Dr. Brenda Killingsworth (Business).


 A few years ago, the university was met with a budget crisis, which prompted emotional uncertainty from the faculty about the state of the academic core. They worried about the fate of fixed-term faculty and insecurity relating to under-productive programs, as defined by GA. As predicted, these feelings are being experienced again as we face renewed budget woes and unpredictability about the NC Legislature and changes to General Administration leadership.  Amid this climate, the faculty remain cautious and look to the leadership of our university to provide guidance and transparency about the state of our budget and affects on our academic core. We have been fortunate that our financial and senior leadership, including Chancellor Ballard, has been transparent in decisions regarding our budget and how enrollment growth funding has contributed to our financial health. Many universities are not as transparent as ECU, in sharing its budget management as VC Seitz has done, with the faculty leadership and faculty senate.  We look to our new leadership, under Interim Vice Chancellor Niswander, and his interaction with the University Budget Committee, in continuing to inform the faculty senate and general faculty about the state of financial affairs.  Provost Sheerer and I have agreed to meet with this faculty senate committee throughout the year and to assist with the dissemination of budget updates with the general faculty. In all circles and committees, both at the university and UNC system level, faculty are concerned about our financial health and want to be involved in making decisions about possible faculty and program cuts.  Concerns are mounting about possible program curtailment, with the establishment of a UNC system-wide committee on program curtailment, as chaired by our own Provost Sheerer. Speculations about the elimination of tenured faculty, in the event of program elimination, are growing.  I ask the BOT and senior administration to continue to have open dialogues and discussions with faculty and faculty senate committees (EPPC) in the event of such decisions, to involve the faculty in such decisions, and to uphold the process as outlined the Faculty Manual, in the event of program elimination, which could potentially affect tenured and non-tenured faculty.  


Now for more positive news, the Faculty Manual review and revision continues, and which will be 65% completed following our Faculty Senate meeting in two weeks.  We have a 50+ page agenda, which 26 sections of the faculty manual. We have so much to discuss that the Agenda Committee is even timing my comments, so we can devote more time to our business – to get the Faculty Manual completed!  Following the January Faculty Meeting, 75% of the manual will be completely reviewed! It has become a goal for all of us, especially the key Faculty Senate committees!  My goal is to have the entire manual completely revised by April, and beginning with the organization of the new Faculty Manual in the Summer of 2011.  Again, I cannot overstate the time and effort that has gone into this process. By reviewing each section in the manual, we have uncovered not only outdated information, but have added new sections that pertain to contemporary issues such as training for Distance Education courses (a SACS requirement), updated information related to personnel records, and updated Academic Policies. Our matrix tells our story and I have a new one for Chair Brody and Mr. Grezchan, a member of our Faculty Manual Steering Committee, and of course, Chancellor Ballard. At the end of this year, we will have new language and an organizational outline for the ECU Faculty Manual.  Thanks to our faculty and administrators who have been diligent in their work on this endeavor. We will have the best faculty manual in the state!


Lastly, I want to remind the BOT about the productivity of our faculty in the areas of teaching, research, and service.   Many faculty, representing all academic units, have dedicated countless hours to university service, including work on the faculty senate and its committees, to SACS committees as we work towards reaffirmation of our accreditation, strategic action planning and the Baldrige Award, and participating in Foundations of Excellence –a self-study examining our first year program (freshman) and transfer student experiences, and ultimately - retention. Now keep in mind that these service activities (to the university, college, and department) are not counted toward the faculty workload, although service is an important aspect of the responsibilities of the tenured and tenure-track faculty member.  Faculty are teaching larger classes, both face-to-face and online in their discipline with many teaching at multiple levels – undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral. Our online faculty are the same faculty in our face-to-face classrooms, which demonstrates the quality of our academic programs.  In addition to higher teaching demands, the faculty must also be engaged in productive scholarly work, including the mentoring of students, in such areas as basic research, creative activity (as in the fine arts), engagement, outreach, and innovation. Also included in this area are the submission and management of external funding and grants, which are timely to both write and administer. Yes, and many of us also engage in patient care and clinical supervision of our students in clinical settings. Much of the data and outcomes representing student graduation and retention rates do not reflect the countless hours spent in the traditional roles of the faculty member. The faculty tirelessly and unselfishly share their knowledge with our students, to offer a quality education in a variety of disciplines, which teach them how to think, problem solve, be a leader in a field, and engage in inquiry at many different levels. Our dedication and roles know no boundaries. We are dedicated to our university and to the education of our students.


To close, let me thank each of you for your commitment to our university. The faculty truly appreciate your support and the stability you provide to East Carolina University.