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Faculty senate divides issues into 8 sections

Sept. 17, 2003

By Sandi Villarreal, reporter

The Baylor Faculty Senate released the 'Leadership Issues at Baylor University: Major Faculty Concerns' on Monday after gathering the grievances of the members who met Sept. 9. The executive committee drafted the grievances as an explanation of the no-confidence motion passed at that meeting.

'This is just a short, preliminary list to show the rest of the faculty, and perhaps the broader Baylor community, why the faculty has a lack of confidence and trust in some of the administration's actions,' said Dr. Eric Rust, secretary of the faculty senate and history professor. 'There will be a much more detailed list that will be discussed with the Baylor Board of Regents.'

The list of 38 grievances was separated under eight headings including marginalization of faculty participation in university governance; work environment: a climate of fear, distrust and intimidation; and decline in collegiality and civility.

'These are simply talking points,' Rust said. 'It is not a catalog of accusations.'

The administration has made an effort to address these grievances and begin the process of working out the problems. President Robert B. Sloan Jr. and Dr. David L. Jeffrey, provost and vice president for academic affairs, have approached the faculty senate for a lunch meeting with the senate's executive committee.

The senate also has been approached by members of the special regent review committee of the board of regents to begin discussions and investigations, Dr. Joe Cox, chairman of the faculty senate, said.

The list of concerns was posted on the faculty senate Web site primarily for the benefit of faculty members who were not a part of the no-confidence vote.

'The faculty senators expressed that there would be certain faculty members who would wonder why they voted the way they did,' Eric Robinson, publicity chair of the faculty senate and educational psychology professor, said.

The faculty members' specific concerns include questioning the hiring practices of new faculty.

'In peer universities, typically the faculty searches are done by the faculty, not by the administration,' said Dr. Charles Weaver, immediate past chairman of the faculty senate and psychology and neuroscience professor. 'According to the faculty survey, 30 percent of those individuals that the faculty departments wish to hire are turned down by the administration.'

Another concern listed is the 'fear and hesitation to report grievances in the face of expected retribution.' Some faculty members, especially those without tenure, fear the loss of their jobs, salary freezes or lack of promotion if they don't comply with certain requests from the administration, Weaver said.

Another concern deals with the 'increase of underqualified students. 'The percentage of students who do not meet the academic standards of the university as far as class rank and SAT/ACT scores has jumped from 5 percent last year to 14 percent of the current freshman class, Weaver said.

The faculty senate hopes to resolve the issues and to discuss them with the board of regents soon. The list of concerns is the first step in the process of healing the rift between the faculty and the administration, they said.