Report on Faculty Senate 12/10/2019

Graduate student numbers.

The most important news item may have been an explanation for why SIUC didn’t provide any data on graduate applications at last week’s Board of Trustees meeting. As was noted in the last FA News post, numbers distributed on campus indicate a decline in graduate school applications of over 50%. Yet at the same BOT meeting where the provost touted higher undergraduate numbers, she reported that no figures were available for graduate students. At the FS Provost Komarraju provided a more nuanced response. Komarraju said that a glitch in the new reporting system appears to have led to a undercounting of applicants. Undergraduate numbers were the priority, she said, and a staffer was out in the grad school, explaining why they had undergraduate application numbers but no reliable graduate numbers. The administration is working on getting more accurate numbers, they said. Komarraju assured a questioner that applications were being processed despite this glitch.

A significant breakdown in the system would not be good news. It is also curious, to say the least, that these numbers were shared on campus for weeks without any caveat, leading to considerable consternation among those tasked with leading our graduate programs. To the best of my knowledge the administration has not communicated with graduate directors about their newfound realization that the previously reported numbers were erroneous. The graduate numbers were also presented alongside undergraudate  numbers that were presumably generated by the same system and that are in line with the c. +25% numbers now being reported as accurate for undergraduate numbers. But if the reported decline in graduate is a system glitch rather than a real trend, this would of course be good news. It would also absolve the provost of the gross deception of the BOT and public that I accused her of in the last FA Newsletter, though her communication skills would still leave something to be desired. We will, however, need to see when credible numbers for graduate applications are produced, something the adminstration said will happen soon.

Asked whether enrollment next year would be up or not, Chancellor Dunn suggested it would likely be down, given that we will graduate more students than we get in incoming freshmen and transfers, even if new students increase somewhat. Komarraju said that the goal was to stabilize freshmen numbers. Both said that we would have a more accurate prognostication for fall enrollment early next year, when housing contracts start to come in, among other things.

Dunn reports on travels, funding, and the abodes of the new president

Chancellor Dunn reported on his various trips: Chicago meeting with leaders in agriculture; LA with alums, particularly in entertainment industry; SWIC: Pinckneyville. Dunn noted the BOT’s decision to continue to split new state funding (ie., increases) 50/50 between campuses for the next two years (for three years in total) before a new funding model is completed. This meant a $1 million shift from SIUC to SIUE this year (as compared with the old c. 65/35 “model”). The other big news item at the BOT was the formal appointment of new president, Daniel Mahony. He will probably spend his first six months here (starting March 1), second six with SIUE, and then take up residence in Springfield.

Faculty Open House

Mickey Latour gave a brief report on the FS survey and associated Open House held just before Thanksgiving Break. More than 300 faculty, NTT and TT, took the survey. Latour’s ppt slides are linked to below. Is his report, Latour noted agreement among NTT and TT that enrollment was a pressing issue, and that the university lacked much in the way of a strategic vision. An open-ended question also led to two shared themes: low salaries and poor communication. Latour also emphasized concerns about trust between faculty and administrators. One remarkable feature of the survey was how opinionated TT faculty were, while NTT faculty diverged greatly from one another in their response to survey questions, reporting a variety of degrees of support for all statements they were asked to react to.

Report on open house

— Report by Dave Johnson

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

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