Assege HaileMariam, Ken Baker and I invite the campus community to participate in the 2011 strategic planning process. We hope to have stimulating, productive discussions that will prepare us to educate the next generation of students and help us build a sustainable future for EIU. William Weber
I am concerned that the strategic planning statements out so far barely mention faculty research (perhaps I have not read the fullest statement). As John J. Pitney, Jr., the Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, noted recently: "Colleges and universities require publication because it's a form of professional development. Faculty members who fail to do serious work will eventually go stale as teachers as well." We have a Grants & Research office; we have a President who is committed to encouraging research; we have DACs which evaluate professors in terms of teaching, Research, and service. I think Research needs to be considered and specifically embraced, not just in terms of collaborative research with students (which should certainly be there too), but in itself. In addition to Prof. Pitney's truthful remarks, faculty research provides a model to students and to the community. And it is a vital component of a university defined as a community of scholars.
Reliable child care should be provided at EIU. Child care on campus could easily be created with existing facilities. It could create an alternative revenue stream for EIU. It could also give education students an opportunity to work with children transferring the principles they learn in the classroom in real life skills. This is something other schools are doing and it has proven to be profitable. I believe this would be easy to implement especially in partnership with the Child Care Resource and Referral office as well as our College of Education and Professional Studies faculty, staff and students.
On the front page of our website there is a link that says EIU Global. Study Abroad is also one of the current top 5 goals for the institution. Our best students are studying abroad overseas and more and more faculty are participating in this process as well. However, the word "Global" is non-existent in the draft vision statement. While it does a good job of addressing the value of diversity and international cultures on campus, it does not speak to all those pursuing an education through EIU's international programs and partnerships around the world. Words like "regional", "residential", "off-campus", etc. provide a more local feel. For example, I suggest "interdependent world" instead of "changing world" and also think "contributing global citizens" is much more powerful than "contributing citizens". I also like the term "global community" as opposed to just "community". It's important to include our world-wise students and faculty in the vision of the institution, if world-wise is the direction we are heading.
I just attended a Vision Statement revision session. I have three comments. 1. The session is limited to one hour. The first half was consumed in a lecture recapitulating the history of the planning process thus far. That is far too long. 5-10 minutes would have sufficed, and would have left the majority of the time to those who gathered for discussion. 2. It appears that in the new draft the Vision Statement is being tied to the Six Strategic Themes. Why? This confuses Vision with Strategic Planning and results in a kind of laundry list that is simply not a vision. 3. Why throw out the Vision Statement from the 1990's? It's a good one. Certainly far superior to the current draft up for discussion.
Eastern is sitting on a gold mine. Now is the time for EIU to press forward with Renewable Energy. With the Renewable Energy Center coming on line, we need to keep looking ahead. We need to find that renewable energy source that will unite Coles County and surrounding communities with Eastern. We should work with Coles Co Farm Bureau and Coles Co Extension. There has to be someone in Biological Sciences that can see this as a research project…find a grant and research this. Maybe we should partner with Lake Land College and their Ag Dept. There are people in this community that can make this work. We just need to fine them. My fear is that we will get comfortable using the wood chips and not move forward to find a local, renewable source. I think this is a great opportunity for EIU. If we don’t capitalize on it someone else will.
The suggestions sound reasonable to me as long as adequate and fair evaluation is used. Good evaluation always includes a variety of approaches.
Faculty and administrators are in the negotiations process, with a good possibility of furloughs, layoffs, salary freezes, and/or strike on the horizon. This is no surprise. Businesses, individuals, and educational institutions face economic distress across the state, and EIU is not immune. Something has to be done to keep our ivory towers financially stable. The administration and the UPI continue to struggle to come to a contract agreement. As an observer of the power struggle, I offer a common sense solution that would be in the best interests of our students.
1. I would suggest furloughs, salary freezes, and layoffs only have the possibility of being imposed on instructors receiving less than a highly effective rating. The idea here is to reward and keep our best instructors.
2. I would also suggest that any freeze in salary, furlough, or layoff jointly be imposed upon administration. In hard times, all parties at the University should share in the sacrifice of keeping the University financially afloat.
3. Department chairs and administrators would be wise to consider reducing their force by not replacing retirees.
4. Cutting faculty with multiple evaluations that are less than highly effective over time is in the best interest of all. We all know of those instructors, Unit A and Unit B, with and without tenure, who are performing poorly. The majority of Eastern instructors are of great quality, but there are also a few who are consistently doing our students a disservice. When an instructor's course enrollment consistently drops from a full class the first day to meager levels after the drop date, something is lacking in instruction. Victims of poor instruction end up increasing faculty needs as they repeat courses with quality instructors in future semesters. How some of our poor instructors remain employed as teachers is baffling. Perhaps the evaluation process is fluffed to retain undesirable personnel in some colleges and departments. I charge deans, department chairs, and peer committees to produce accurate evaluations, holding instructors accountable for their flaws on evaluation instruments. I also charge the UPI to trust evaluators and encourage the bad apples under its wing to find another tree.
5. Course loads from retirees and those bad apples could be transferred to superior and highly effective instructors willing to teach overloads. The overload pay would reward our quality professionals while cutting the dead weight of poor instructors soaking up a tremendous amount of University money in salary and benefits.
6. The University could also "do more with less" by incorporating more online courses that could serve more students with fewer resources. Eastern is behind the times, offering few online courses compared to other universities. Incentives should be given to departments adding online courses.
7. An analysis of administrative positions should be performed to reveal opportunities to cut or consolidate these positions as well.
This advice may have a complex implementation, but I feel it is a solution that would be worth the complexity. It would cut costs and it would be better for our students. Sometimes in the midst of negotiations, we forget our purpose here. We are here, primarily, to serve our students, and we should keep that at the forefront as we enter into anything at this University - including negotiations.
Answer: Please note that any collective bargaining issues must be addressed at the bargaining table, not through the strategic planning process. William Weber
Assege HaileMariam, Ken Baker and I invite the campus community to participate in the 2011 strategic planning process. We hope to have stimulating, productive discussions that will prepare us to educate the next generation of students and help us build a sustainable future for EIU.