FA News: 4/27/2017

Dear Colleagues,

[This post contains an update on the Chancellor search; a link to a letter from the FA to students on campus; questions on the budget we are asking of the administration; data on staffing trends; and the announcement of the new “budgetary resources” page on the website.]

1. Chancellor search

The last candidate for Chancellor is wrapping up his visit on campus as I write this. You’ll have received messages urging you to fill out a survey if you have attended a forum or meeting with any of the candidates. My understanding is that all responses will be shared with the full search committee, who will then discuss them with President Dunn. This will ensure that a cross section of the campus community reviews and discusses responses with the President–they won’t simply vanish into a black hole. I would add that, at least in my opinion, most faculty on campus will know enough about one of the candidates–Interim Chancellor Colwell–to have an educated opinion on whether or not he is suitable for the position as permanent Chancellor. This ought to justify all faculty with such opinions filling out a survey regarding him, even if they were unable to attend his open forum as part of the search process. The survey does not ask you to rank candidates against one another, or otherwise require comparative judgements. Here is a link to the survey:


2. FA letter to students in the DE

The FA has sent a letter to students, printed by the DE here. In it we say that we are doing all we can to minimize the impact of cuts on academics and make budgets transparent, call on students to put pressure on the state government to fund higher education, and provide a link to further information on the budget. I frankly find it astonishing that our current administration has still said nothing to students about the latest phase in the budget crisis. The FA does not speak for the administration, of course, but we are trying to help fill the void in communication by articulating our approach to the budget mess.

3. Budget questions for the administration

I attach below a rather lengthy list of questions about the budget that we’ve just sent to the administration. As the document outlines, we are trying to ascertain whether the round of cuts underway on campus is prioritizing academics, including protection of TT faculty positions. The numbers provided so far don’t make that case.

FA budget request 27 April

4. Recent enrollment and hiring trends

The second attachment includes a table and graph drawn from figures provided by institutional research (www.irs.siu.edu). I have shared similar figures in this space before, but the fall 2016 figures are now available. As the figures and graph should make clear, almost all trend lines in enrollment and staffing are going in the wrong direction, but some lines are moving downward more quickly than others.

The only category of staff to be declining more rapidly than student numbers (-23.8%) are GAs, who have seen their numbers cut by 26%, most in the last two years. Tenure track faculty have seen their numbers fall by 21%, so just about as rapidly as student numbers. Secretarial and clerical staff (many represented by our fellow IEA local, ACsES) have also fallen sharply (-18.5 ). And while NTT numbers, thanks to some increases a number of years ago, have not fallen as quickly over the ten-year period (-9.8%) , they have declined very sharply in the last two years (-17.9%).

On the other hand, upper administration positions have declined only slightly (-6.7%) and professional non-faculty positions have barely declined at all (-3.0%).

These figures suggest to us that neither instructional staff (TT, GA, NTT) nor frontline civil service staff should bear the brunt of upcoming budget cuts.

Recent Staffing and Enrollment Trends

5. Budget resources on the website

Finally, we have put together a set of Budget Resources on our website to help any interested in such things untangle the university budget. The main goal is to provide easy access to information on the SIU budget, but we also provide some information on the state budget, and contact information for state government. If you have ideas for additional links or documents to include, do let us know.

In solidarity,

Dave Johnson
President, SIUC-FA

About Dave Johnson
I'm an Associate Professor in Classics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Among other things.

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