Tempers flared, our school president was laughed at, and important questions still remain unanswered as President Mark Rocha met with faculty members from the School of Humanities last week in the C-building.
Faculty members touched on a variety of topics ranging from money for instructional equipment to class sizes. However, the biggest elephant in the room was what faculty described as the administration’s misconduct, which includes school realignment.
Headed by Amy Ulmer, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, the mood between the faculty members was calm and sociable.
“I think the greatest concern of most faculty members right now is the administration’s refusal to follow shared governance procedures,” Language professor Mary-Erin Crook said.
The mood was upbeat and calm, until President Rocha snuck in, seconds before the 12:15 p.m. start time. Things devolved from there.
At one point, when Rocha explained that the reorganization of schools is designed to reduce the amount of administration on campus, faculty members made their skepticism clear.
“You always want to have the smallest amount of administration possible,” Rocha said, before several faculty members broke into laughter.
“It’s not pleasant to be laughed at,” Rocha interjected.
The mood of the meeting remained contentious throughout, and faculty were unhappy with Rocha’s responses.
“It was really the first time I’ve been able to observe the interaction between faculty members and the President,” Language professor Steve Pell said. “My observation is that the President never really comes in knowing what he’s going to talk about and the inability to answer a question completely. There’s not really much substance [from President Rocha]. He’s not communicating very well or clearly.”
President Rocha said he proposed a return to the department chair model three years ago, but the faculty members aren’t in agreement with that proposal either.
“I proposed three years ago that we needed to return to the department chair model,” Rocha said. “The faculty department chair’s would make the academic management decisions of their disciplines.”
But contrary to Rocha’s stated position, faculty believes realignment will add more administrative red tape.
“The faculty objected the realignment because it puts more layers of management in between faculty and upper management,” Language professor Mary-Erin Crook said. “It also does the same for the students, If the student have a problem there are more and more steps the student has to take. Department Chairs’ have awful lot of work and the compensation isn’t really adequate. Department Chairs don’t have the powers that a Dean has and I think that’s part of the idea, they want to disempower the divisions and the faculty.”
Ultimately, faculty members insist that Rocha’s handling of realignment is one of many examples of him undermining the shared governance process.
“Of great concern are a number of issues that could be classified as mismanagement.” Crook said.