Council avoids Senate meeting

Nathan Carter

 

Tensions have risen between the Faculty Senate and President’s Council due to the October Faculty Senate meeting.

University President Bruce Speck was unable to attend the meeting due to personal matters. He did, however, leave a statement for Vice President AJ Anglin to read to the senate, listing his reason for absence and the absence of the President’s Council.

“… I have asked other members of the President’s Council not to attend Faculty Senate until I have the opportunity to talk directly with you [Faculty Senate] regarding my concern in establishing a more conducive environment for information sharing.” 

The statement was issued due to complaints from Jared Bruggeman, director of athletics, who claimed unfair treatment prior to and during the October Faculty Senate meeting. 

Many questions rose from the statement, mostly involving the president’s commitment to increasing communication. Anglin initially tried to field some of the questions.

“One of things is in terms of my understanding is how we can improve communication,” Anglin said. “That’s number one. That’s why I brought this memo stating about the situation. To my understanding, he will come to the next meeting and whatever those issues are he will have the opportunity to express that.”

Stephen Schiavo, associate professor of computer information sciences, asked if some sort of emotional trauma was endured due to the Faculty Senate’s actions. 

“Any of us on the staff in Dwight’s days who saw how the board members treated the representatives of the faculty who had been invited to make a case can’t possibly be shocked, with the exception for some old McCarthy hearings or something like that,” Schiavo said. “I think we should go on record and say we really abhor people being discourteous to speakers who we 

invited and so forth, and for heaven’s sakes we should restrain ourselves, but on the other hand, we’re, most of us, big kids. If the topic that you have to discuss is a lightning rod, if you go before a bunch like the faculty per say, you should expect to get shocked. Get over it. Which of us has not been at a hearing where you have been lambasted by somebody at a level far in excess of what he thought necessary at the time? But I’ve never been hospitalized for it,” Schiavo said.

“I would also say that if we are supposed to be acting in the best interest of the students, I think it would be detrimental to the conversation across campus if we don’t at the same time assume the other guys will also be acting in the same way.”

Dr. Anthony Adamopoulos, associate professor of psychology, among others, inquired about the statement made outside of the meeting.

“Is the other issue, the thing that’s not on the table, did that occur before this body was in session or after this body was in session?” he said. 

Anglin said that it was not his issue to discuss in any further depth.

“It’s not my issue, so if there are going to be comments on it, the president’s going to have to,” he said. 

In the meeting it was suggested that Speck listen to the recording of the October meeting in order to determine if Bruggeman‘s complaint was valid. Speck said in a phone interview after the meeting that he feels that the issue is infringing on communication and taking the recommendation.

“My communication to the senate yesterday through AJ was that I’ll be addressing it,” Speck said. “They don’t meet again until February. They encouraged me to listen to that particular session that I think will create some issues, and I will get back with them.”

Bruggeman and his office were unavailable for comment.

The budget advisory committee reported the University’s expected losses for the semester were negative, but not as bad as expected.

“Regarding tuition and revenue there was a 5.2 percent drop in credit hours which translates to $729,000 which is actually better than we thought we were expecting – six to eight percent,” Dr. Scott Cragin, professor of business administration and marketing management said. “We don’t project increases. Any budgets you see will be conservative in that manner. 

“If the trend continues we will continue to see a total $1.4 million decline and made the point that retention is killing us and we’re basically on an unsustainable path of retention, decreasing appropriations and the ability to raise tuition with state bill 38, the tuition cap.”

He also said the state budget has a hole of $400 million to $600 million, which will affect Southern.

Anglin is also handling the hiring of the replacement of Dr. Michael Garoutte, director of the honors program. Five people entered a letter of intent. Anglin said he is thrilled there is so much interest.

There is a new category in the performance funding initiative related to affordability.

“I think something will be related I think under the category of affordability,” Anglin said. “Hopefully it will be more than just a dollar amount or something like that.”

Anglin also announced that the individual category selected by Southern was growth in distance learning.

“We selected the growth in credit hour enrollment in distance learning simply because we have spent a year and a half doing a lot of background infrastructure and believe that we’re … probably at a good point to begin growth,” Anglin said. “Since the department of higher ed has not come back specifically to each of the institutions, there may be additional discussion.”