FA News: 5/18/2017

Dear colleagues,

I hope that you are in whatever summer mode you find most pleasant and productive–but there is still of course much news to share with you. This missive provides an update on recent events and some new data about trends in campus staffing.

1. Finances

On May 10, SIU Board of Trustees (BOT) unanimously approved a motion that included a provision authorizing loans of up to $35 million from the SIUE campus to SIUC. This was a significant revision of the open-ended proposal that was blocked at the last BOT meeting by a procedural move. Passage came in the face of resistance by major constituency groups on the SIUE campus, including their faculty senate, faculty union, and staff council. Some last minute changes to the resolution were designed to meet SIUE concerns, but were announced too late for SIUE constituency groups to digest, and would probably not have mollified them in any event. I made some brief remarks at the BOT meeting, disputing some of the points made by those opposing the loan; they are attached.

The new proposal sets a $35 million cap on borrowing. I have difficulty judging the significance of this figure, but we’ve borrowed $83 million from the medical school, so $35 million seems a relatively small figure; on the other hand, this campus does not need to go further into debt, and I certainly understand why SIUE doesn’t want to loan us more than $35 million.

The motion also:

  • Requires the Carbondale Interim Chancellor to present a plan for financial sustainability, including major cuts to the state budget, to the BOT by the July 13 meeting. This plan will require more detail than the brief overview of $30 million in cuts already made public.
  • Says that the “highest priority” will be given to eliminating the Carbondale deficit as soon as practicable (i.e., limiting borrowing from SIUE) and that the first claim for payback, once there is a full state budget, is to SIUE.
  • Announces that “if additional state funds are not appropriated by that time or other actions taken which will sufficiently sustain Carbondale operations, the President shall make a recommendation for the Board’s declaration of a short term fiscal emergency for FY18 at its July 2017 meeting and shall be authorized to recommend any and all additional actions that he deems appropriate”.

The last item, repeated more or less intact from the failed resolution at the last meeting, is rather odd. The President hardly needs BOT approval to recommend anything to the Board at a later date. It is presumably meant to send SIUC a warning signal that the fiscal situation is indeed dire. You would think that this signal could be sent by means other than a Board resolution; but perhaps the public signal was meant as a reassuring sign to SIUE that SIUC has been put on notice.

A declaration of a “short term fiscal emergency” could be tantamount to the “temporary financial emergency” which is one precondition for the implementation of furloughs (as per Article 18 of our contract). To impose furlough days, however, the Board would also need to show that “other workable cost saving measures (including but not limited to reductions in non-essential services, hiring freezes, suspension of new initiatives, etc.) are not sufficient to mitigate the crisis” (CBA 18.02). The contract also outlines steps the Board must take to demonstrate that other measures would not suffice to meet the crisis. Among other things, the Board must give us 45 days notice before any furlough day can be implemented. We will of course notify you should we receive any such notice.

We are still awaiting a response from the administration to our questions about the budget sent to them on April 27  Absent these details, we cannot evaluate whether the $30 million in planned cuts are being distributed in a way that would protect our core academic mission. We asked numerous questions, and administrators are naturally enough scrambling to identify major cuts while also dealing with the normal end of the semester rush. But it is vital that the campus community not only understand how the administration is distributing such cuts, but have the opportunity to weigh in before final decisions are made. Failure to share more information would make a mockery of any pretense of shared governance. We will share what we learn from the administration as soon as we learn it.

More information on campus finances can be found on our website, siucfa.org.

2. Chancellor search

The BOT “tabled” the Chancellor search. At the press conference after the end of the meeting, Board Chairman Thomas and President Dunn clarified that the Board is “taking ownership” of the search; the Board decided to interview not only the three finalists who visited campus, but the next two candidates as ranked by the search committee–or at least all of these individuals who are still interested in the position.

The Board discussed the search for at least two hours in closed session. The delay of the announcement, and decision to go back into the search pool, was certainly not a vote of confidence, by the President and Board, in the qualifications of the three candidates to make on-campus visits. The only public clue to the nature of the low confidence comes in one remark by the Board Chairman (as quoted in the Southern): the Board is looking for a “visionary who will reshape what SIU Carbondale will become — the new Delyte Morris.”

We have now learned that one of the two external candidate who made the final round, Carl Pinkert, has withdrawn from the search. So two of the three external candidates invited to campus have now withdrawn. The two new external candidates, both of who are still willing to be considered, have been announced: Rodney Scott Hanley, currently Provost at Fisk University in Nashville, and Carlo Montemagno, who has been a dean at the University of Cincinnati and is now the Director of the “Ingenuity Lab”, a partnership between the University of Alberta, the provincial government, and industry. CVs of all remaining candidates can be found here.

The FA has written to the Board urging them to:
Consult directly with the Carbondale search committee, constituency groups, and union leaders about all candidates for the position;
Arrange for full campus visits by the additional candidates, to allow for the fullest possible input from campus.
Further coverage on the BOT meeting can be found in the DE (which now quotes me correctly) and Southern.

3. New data on SIUC staffing

I also attach an excel file with data on SIUC campus staffing that was circulated at the BOT meeting in an effort to demonstrate the reality of long-term cuts at SIUC. These data are important because they single out the Carbondale campus–the publicly available data from institutional research lump us in with the medical school, which has a different mix of staff.

These data confirm a point we have long emphasized: faculty numbers have been declining more quickly than almost any other category of staff on campus. TT numbers have declined by 24% over the last ten years, NTT 18.9%, most in the steep cuts last year (which we fear will continue this year). Administrative positions, on the other hand, have not declined nearly as quickly.

Full Time Faculty (TT and NTT):

1035 to 803: -22.4%

Administration (Executive/Administrative/Management and Professional Non-Faculty):

1196 to 1036: -13.4%

One way of illustrating this difference would be to say that if faculty numbers had declined only as rapidly as administrative numbers, there would be 93 more faculty on campus. Faculty should not continue to shoulder a disproportionate share of spending cuts.

In solidarity,

Dave Johnson
President, SIUC-FA

BOT May 10

SIUC staffing (sans medicine)

About Dave Johnson
I'm an Associate Professor in Classics and currently (fall 2016) President of the SIUC Faculty Association.

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