Board of Trustees Remarks
Janice Tovey, Chair of the Faculty
February 27, 2009
As the chair of the faculty I have to report that, while we are going about business as usual, with teaching, research, and service, the underlying anxiety about the budget is clear. Faculty members are concerned about the impact on students and our programs, on staff who assist us, and on our part time and fixed term faculty who are key to our core mission—educating our students. How have the 7% cuts affected us?
· Travel funds are almost nonexistent. I was one of the lucky ones. I attended a conference to present a paper and meet with the executive committee of which I am a member in October before the cuts actually took hold. But many of my colleagues are unable to travel, or must fund the travel with personal funds—for some of us that’s not a problem, but for many, especially our tenure track assistant professors just beginning their careers, this loss of funding can seriously affect them. Professional meetings and conferences not only provide a venue for introducing our research, but also serve as a way to connect with colleagues, book publishers, and journal editors. The one-on-one, face-to-face contact is crucial—there are many of us competing to get our work into publication and getting information and advice is important.
· Next, the result of not attending a conference and presenting a paper means a faculty member could miss an opportunity for publishing. Some conferences will not publish a paper as a part of conference proceedings if the paper was not presented, even though it was on the program. These types of publications are good for an initial exploration of how the research might be accepted. A faculty member might also miss the opportunity to connect and network with their peers and perhaps miss an opportunity for collaboration that leads to publication.
· Fixed term faculty fear that their contracts will not be renewed; and even if they are renewed, the multi-year contract will disappear for the time being. A high quality experienced teachers are not easy to find. And when we have one, we want to keep them.
· Class sizes may have to be increased. Okay—for some courses that works. We have large sections in my department—English—which meet together for one class period for a lecture, and in smaller groups for discussion lead by master’s and doctoral students—excellent training for them. But upper division classes for majors are smaller. And even some first and second year courses should not have students in large sections. For example, imagine trying to teach writing and evaluate papers with 50 students per section in 3 or 4 sections. We could do that—teach 50 students at a time—but writing assignments aren’t computer scored, and don’t have answer keys—so I can’t even imagine how much time it would take to do a thorough job of responding thoughtfully to 200 student
· Increased faculty teaching loads are also a possibility. Okay, we can do that, too. But that takes time from our research, and our research informs our teaching as our teaching informs our research—and the circle continues. If we don’t produce sufficient publications our tenure and/or promotion becomes a question mark—
· Cuts to Operating budgets in our units do limit the resources available—paper, printers, toner cartridges, computers, and new software—in some ways, we can go paperless, but sometimes that shifts the costs of printing to students. Faculty members ask—is that fair?
While it may seem easy as a method of saving money, to simply cut jobs—save salary and benefits costs, there will be a negative impact on the educational enterprise. Will there be jobs cuts? Yes, I am willing to admit there will be. But I challenge the Chancellor, Provost, and the Vice Chancellors to make these faculty cuts strategically. I accepted the opportunity the Chancellor gave me by naming me as a co chair of the Budget Task Force. I want to be, and am expected to be always, a voice for the faculty and to provide the faculty perspective on the impacts and implications of budget cuts. As if the cuts we’ve already made aren’t enough, Yesterday morning I learned that the Governor had asked for 9% cuts from state agencies!!