“A Sinking Ship”

DAYS WITHOUT A CONTRACT: 435

My department (which is in the College of Liberal Arts) had its first department meeting of the year yesterday morning. The news our chair reported out to us was both a little disturbing but not surprising. At least in CoLA, all faculty hiring will based solely on “enrollment,” due to the new performance funding law. What exactly encompasses “enrollment” hasn’t been set yet. Secondly, there’s a push to start consolidating some of the required courses at the graduate level, particularly for compatible research methods and statistics. Speaking as a graduate student, that could actually make it harder to get into those classes, especially since people outside CoLA also take, for example, statistics in Political Science because it’s required for their degree but not offered in their department. Even more, it could confuse the issue as each discipline handles statistics differently and has their own takes on what methods work best for certain research questions. Third, a new assessment committee — which used to be called the “rightsizing committee” — is going to start looking at efficiency within programs. Again, no specific metrics of what is considered “efficient” is public yet. But hearing “rightsizing” and “program assessment” (as a group separate already from the constant assessment efforts) has me hearing the underlying words “program cuts.” Finally, it sounds like the college is looking to also streamline civil service jobs, either by sharing people (one person working multiple jobs) or moving them out of their positions and into new ones and asking departments/faculty to step up to take over the duties (because there will be no filling of vacancies).

There was also a comment about how the CoLA dean wants to improve morale… which made the entire room laugh.

Moving onto news outside CoLA:

Online courses give students easy access [Daily Egyptian]
It looks like the trend is toward a push to offer online classes, or, as the euphemism goes, “distance education.” I know distance education is one of the issues still on the bargaining table for the Faculty Association but I don’t have the specifics. Maybe one of the FA members in the loop would like to educate us?

Enrollment figures examined [Daily Egyptian]
A follow-up with more information to yesterday’s article, including a note from Koropchak, dean of the graduate school, who blamed the 10 percent decrease in graduate enrollment on non-declared students. Apparently when they count “graduate enrollment,” the university only counts graduate students actually enrolled and admitted to programs. Though there’s no number given so I wonder if there really are that many non-declared graduate students and, when you include them, how “soft” the graduate enrollment still is.

Academic Freedom and Tenure: What Does the Constitution Protect? [Daily Egyptian]
An opinion piece published in the DE that breaks down the new language imposed by the administration around tenure.

Apparently, the news about the enrollment “increase” made the St. Louis papers and radio. One radio commentator called SIUC a “sinking ship.” So if we’re going down, do we get in the lifeboats and bail? Or do we try and plug the holes and come out stronger? Right now, the administration is attempting to plug the holes. But they’re doing it in the wrong way — by alienating the very people who actually have contact with the students: the faculty, the staff, and the graduate assistants. They’re alienating the students themselves with higher fees and tuition increases. And where is that money going to? A parking lot that students can’t use. A football stadium. A planned student services building. To administrative raises. Is that giving students a quality education? Not particularly.

Upcoming Events:
Struggles in Steel: The Fight for Equal Opportunity, over 70 African-American steel workers speak about their struggles for fair treatment during both their 125-year industry as well as after shutdown
A part of the labor film series sponsored by the SIUC Labor Coalition
Sunday September 18, 2pm
Admission is free and family is welcome!

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One thought on ““A Sinking Ship”

  1. So I guess we will be recruiting new grad students in COLA by advertising something like this; “Come to SIUC and get a Ph.D. in anthropology by taking a bunch of political science classes.” Makes perfect sense. When are we going to get to do some “assessment of efficiency” and “rightsize” the administration?

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