Faculty Senate discusses familiar topic as semester ends

By Dominick Ferlito

May 7, 2018

In a recurring theme at Faculty Senate meetings this school year, the Structural Solutions Workgroup, part of the Path to 2020 project, again served as the featured topic at the senate’s meeting on May 2.

With the end of the semester nearing, and a change in presidential leadership imminent, the workgroup concluded its weekly sessions and gave Cleveland State University President Ronald M. Berkman its insights and recommendations.

Faculty Senate President William M. Bowen, Ph.D., gave a brief update about his experience with the workgroup. “It wasn’t just numbers. It wasn’t heartless,” Bowen said. “It was people thinking about people in the university.”

“I asked for forbearance and tolerance, [because] the challenges are substantial,” Bowen continued. “Another reason I offer my hopefulness for the future is that we have a lot of talent on this campus and that’s why I am confident that we can beat and overcome these challenges successfully.”

Brian Ray, J.D., presented the Budget and Finance Committee report and shared the committee’s thoughts on the Structural Solutions Workgroup. Most notably, that the budget for FY18 will end up balanced, but by a small margin, and that FY19 is still projecting a deficit despite all the work the Structural Solutions Workgroup has done.

Finally, Jianping Zhu, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, and Stephanie McHenry, chief financial officer and senior vice president for business affairs and finance, gave a presentation about the workgroup.

McHenry and Zhu thanked everyone involved with the group for sacrificing three hours every Friday morning to have thorough and informed discussions about ideas collected from campus community members.

One senator asked if the university faced hiring freezes--to which McHenry responded, ”not at this moment, that was not discussed.”

Michael Kalafatis, Ph.D., asked if the faculty could hear some of the recommendations and ideas that the workgroup had. “Can we know about them?” Kalafatis asked. “Is it secret?”

“It’s not a secret,” McHenry said. “It’s not vetted. I think there is a proper process since the president is the one that asked us to bring these forward. I think that there needs to be more discussion from the president’s office and us to determine which [ideas] will make it out of that process.

The Faculty Senate also conducted elections for positions in subcommittees and other faculty assignments around campus. The senate elected Stephen Duffy, Ph.D., to serve on the board of trustees and Jeffrey Snyder, Ph.D., to serve on the Ohio Faculty Council.

Aeisha Kangan, Cleveland State Student Government Association president, gave the senate her final report as acting president of SGA.  She informed the senate that the SGA had allocated $230,000 to more than 140 student organizations.

On behalf of the student body, Kangan thanked faculty members for all the work they had done throughout the year.

Stephen Gingerich, Ph.D., presented, on behalf of the University Faculty Affairs Committee, changes to the Green Book, or Faculty Personnel Policies, including a contentious proposition to include language regarding endowed chairs and distinguished professorships.

Several senators suggested that this new amendment would give outside donors too much power in the hiring of professors, particularly in light of a recent scandal at George Mason University where, in exchange for donations, the conservative Charles Koch Foundation was granted a say in the hiring and firing of instructors.

The University Faculty Affairs Committee also proposed changes to the textbook adoption policy which would urge professors to keep cost and usage in mind when selecting required texts for students.

The University Curriculum Committee, represented by Nolan Holland, Ph.D., introduced changes to six programs and majors, including two programs with Lakeland Community College and Lorain County Community College, which will help students transferring from those colleges to Cleveland State. The senate approved all six changes.

During his report, Berkman informed the senate that Board Chair Bernie Moreno’s term on the board ended effective May 2. Dan Moore, who served as vice-chair, will serve as chairman until the next board of trustees meeting on May 29, when the bylaws allow for an election.

Berkman also spoke about the record-breaking 4,000 students graduating this school year. According to Berkman, 4,000 graduating students is a 60 percent increase in graduation over the last six years.

Finally, Berkman gave a few closing remarks regarding his upcoming retirement.

“I thank you all, I appreciate the good, the bad, and the ugly that we’ve had over nine years,” Berkman said. “I hope that I’ve left it better than I came.”

Bowen also presented Berkman a pen as a “welcome to the faculty” gift in the tradition of scholars giving pens to recognize and celebrate other scholars.

Also of note, incoming president Harlan M. Sands attended the meeting, as he is officially on campus starting May 1.

During the open question-and-comment portion of the meeting, several faculty members expressed their displeasure that summer pay for instructors who are not members of the collective bargaining unit had been reduced significantly.

“They really don’t feel supported.” Barbara Margoulis, Ph.D., said of the lecturers.

“Spending is based on expected income, not current income,” Robert Krebs, Ph.D., said. “The problem was that these lecturers found out they were getting a pay cut when they were handed their contracts. They’d already made their financial decisions before they were handed their contracts, so they’re stuck...and that’s a problem.”

Allyson Robichaud, Ph.D., also inquired about the proposed parking plans. Tim Long, associate vice president for finance and budget, said three bidders remain out of an initial seven. Bids will be received on June 4. If one of the bids is selected, it will be presented to the board of trustees during its June meeting.

Tama Engelking, Ph.D. delivered a eulogy for Maureen “Reenie” Pruitt, a Spanish lecturer who died suddenly in March. “Reenie Pruitt was one of those teachers that definitely made a difference,” Engelking said.

 


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