02 May 2011

Editorial in Today's Daily Evergreen

Judy Meuth, president of the WSU-AAUP, wrote an editorial that appeared in today's Daily Evergreen:

Floyd refuses to hear AAUP claims

The WSU chapter of the American Association of University Professors agrees with President Floyd’s timeline of postponing the announcement of a budget cutting plan until fall, when faculty and students are on campus to give input to the plan. At the same time, AAUP considers the proposed budget cutting process flawed in consideration of shared governance, which is the standard procedure for universities where faculty and administrators work together to make decisions about educational operation.
At last Monday’s budget forum, Floyd stated that the university is a place for free speech and exchange of ideas. However, he refused to have a discussion of WSU financial information and alternative views on how to deal with cutbacks in state funding. He particularly rejected information from AAUP’s recent speaker Howard Bunsis, an Eastern Michigan University accounting professor and expert in higher education budgets. The president’s comment that he does not like someone from outside stirring up faculty and students ignores the fact that faculty and students have been stirred up and questioning the administration’s priorities and actions for some time. The comment also denies that the university community is fully capable of critically examining and evaluating differing information and philosophies. Varying points of view and analyses are vital in furthering discussion, critique and understanding of the full picture of WSU’s financial status, budget cuts and educational priorities. Concern about budget questions includes why the administration has made cuts to the core educational mission of the university before cutting senior administration positions. Moreover, inaccurate claims made by the administration obscure the priorities behind such decisions and exacerbate faculty and student concerns about finances. A case in point is the comment credited to Floyd in last week’s Daily Evergreen on the elimination of the Department of Theatre and Dance (4/27/11): “The reality is, my budget has been reduced, currently, a little over 30 percent in that last four years.” This statement clearly misrepresents the financial situation of WSU, because 30 percent has not been cut from the total WSU income stream, but only from the state contribution, which accounts for only one quarter of the total income stream. Therefore, the actual reduction is 30 percent of one quarter of WSU’s income. In addition to discouraging financial discussion, the administration offered no information when questioned at Monday’s forum on how it will proceed with the reorganizations of instructional units that it says will occur in its budget cutting. Curricular questions are the purview of the faculty, but what careful review by faculty will occur prior to reorganizations, realignments and relocations, potentially all of which will affect curriculum? We need a procedure by which such proposed reorganizations get a fair and open review by the Academic Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate.
By refusing to openly discuss Bunsis’ analysis of WSU’s financial status and to make ‘transparent’ significant WSU financial information, as well as to address questions of priorities and reorganization, Floyd is obstructing shared governance. WSU-AAUP calls for an open discussion of these issues between the university community and the administration early in the fall semester. If the president believes in shared governance, as he says he does, why not promote and expand this discussion with the university community, so we can together discuss and weigh alternatives regarding curricular implications of WSU’s financial situation?

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