Board responds to issues

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Curtis Almeter / The Chart

Board of Governors chair Rod Anderson, University President Bruce Speck and Board member Charles McGinty listen at last week’s Board meeting.

In a prepared statement, Board of Governors Chairman Rod Anderson responded to a Faculty Senate decision to take a campus-wide satisfaction survey in administrators.

Earlier this month, the Faculty Senate voted to create an ad hoc committee tasked with determining the procedures for the creation of a survey of faculty satisfaction.

During the Board’s Sept. 17 meeting, Anderson read a statement that first talked about the completion of Missouri Southern’s administrative team, the uncertain future of higher education’s funding in Missouri and a recent charge from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to conduct a systematic review of degree programs at public institutions. Following that, Anderson criticized the proposed faculty satisfaction surveys.

“Such a survey has not been identified as a need by this Board of Governors and such an undertaking is beyond the needs to be focused upon at this time,” Anderson said.

Anderson’s reasons were that Vice President of Academic Affairs AJ Anglin is charged with faculty relations and that satisfaction surveys would be an interference with what he says are Southern’s most pressing concerns.

“Undertaking ‘satisfaction surveys’ in the middle of a financial tsunami is counterproductive and poses the risk that all of us will be distracted from the major issues facing us in outlining and shaping our future,” Anderson said.

He added that the Board is also unhappy with the budget cuts, and he recognized that they do not enhance faculty satisfaction.

“We understand funding cuts past, present and- most definitely- [in] the future does not foster satisfaction,” Anderson said. “We the Board are also not satisfied … Let’s keep our eye on the ball and decide how we meet the financial and organizational challenges facing us so that the administration and faculty lead and direct our own destiny.”

Following the Board meeting, Anderson told The Chart he made this request of the faculty “to hold up and focus on some things that we are dealing with, especially for accreditation for all the other avenues of strategic planning and everything.”

When Faculty Senate discussed the creation of a committee to create a survey, University President Bruce Speck asked the senators to “work in conjunction” with the Board on the issue. Anderson said he has not had contact with any faculty other than Faculty Senate President Cheryl Cifelli’s report at the Board meeting.

Anderson also said he was not concerned about the results of a faculty satisfaction survey.

“No, no, [I’m not]. Surveys can do all sorts of things,” he said, and when asked if he anticipated the faculty continuing with the survey, he said he had “no idea.”

Cifelli said she anticipated the faculty would continue with the survey.

“I would anticipate yes [the survey plans will continue], but again we’ll have to go to the full Senate and make sure that that’s still what they want to do,” Cifelli said. The next Faculty Senate meeting is set for Oct. 2.

The survey ad hoc committee chairman, Dr. Holly McSpadden, indicated that no plans had changed.

“Faculty Senate already voted that we were going to do the survey,” McSpadden said. “We are, in a responsible way, looking at the best options for that procedure.”

According to a Faculty Senate charge, the committee “is being created for the purpose of creating a survey instrument for faculty to be administered upon Faculty Senate approval. Said instrument would evaluate faculty satisfaction with the university in areas such as shared governance, facilities, support services and resources, administration, working conditions, general campus climate, etc.  The survey would be administered annually so that trends in faculty sentiment can be determined.”

The committee had a meeting on Monday, Sept. 20. McSpadden said there was not a discussion of Anderson’s comments.

“In my committee, no,” she said. “We’re just trying to get the work done and get everybody’s opinions into account and do the best possible job that we can.”

However, the committee’s Monday minutes do say, “The concerns of the Board of Governors were discussed, but the committee only had the Joplin Globe article and awaits the full statement from the Board.”

The minutes also say 10 peer institutions will be contacted to see if they perform faculty surveys. If so, committee members may use those surveys to create Southern’s own.

When asked if the committee was expecting a response from the Board regarding the surveys, McSpadden said they were expecting a bit different response and reiterated that the committee would  like to hear feedback and contributions from anyone involved with the survey.

“I think we were expecting a response from the Board that would help us move this forward in a positive way,” she said. “We’re proceeding thoughtfully and carefully, and we welcome input from all concerned parties.”