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That’s nice, but nobody said they didn’t, in their own way.

9/24/2009 10:09:00 AM

UCM faculty leaders say Senate not behind petition

….”With very serious financial issues facing our institution, we have a much greater issue to tackle than that of contractual discussions between the university president and the UCM Board of Governors,” Dr. Brian J. Hughes said. “With this in mind, our collective minds and energies should be focused on faculty teaching, service and research, and how those three topics impact the students and institution that we serve during these tough financial times….”

….The faculty members who informed The Daily Star-Journal of the petition delivered to the Board of Governors did not say they represented the Faculty Senate. They did say they sought signatures only from tenured faculty….

This is the thirty-sixth post in an ongoing series as we file Missouri Sunshine Law (RSMo 610) requests and investigate the non-renewal of the contract of University of Central Missouri President Aaron Podolefsky. Links to previous coverage are below the fold. BG and MB

On December 2, 2009 several “stakeholder” groups reported on their meetings with the presidential search consultant for the General Faculty Meeting held in the Union. After describing their meeting, members of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee answered questions from faculty:

First faculty question:…My other question is this. You issued, or under the guise of the executive committee, we were informed by groupwise [e-mail] message that issues of higher administration is really something we faculty should not be involved in. And I’m wondering why did the executive committee decide to participate in this, given the fact that what we should be concerned with, this is what you told us. You told us, the executive committee, that we should be concerned with issues in the classroom. Why did you meet with him in the first place, given the message you sent out earlier this semester?

First executive committee member: But I don’t think I sent that message out [crosstalk]…

First faculty question: No. It was on [crosstalk]…

First executive committee member: …I think that’s they way you want it. If you want to translate that way [….] there’s nothing I can do about that.

First faculty question: Well, then why didn’t you ever clear up that message?

Second executive committee member: Why I, I’m under the assumption there was nothing to clear up. I know that you had a, uh, a beef with a quote that I put in the newspaper and [….] and [….]. Uh, I understood that to, uh, to be a problem that you had addressed to us at earlier Faculty Senate meeting. Um, I didn’t have a problem with my quote. I didn’t have a problem with the statement that I put in there. Uh, up to this point I’ve received zero e-mails from people outside my department with any problems or concerns. So, if silence gives consent and then here we are. So, I, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do at that point.


Second faculty question: Um, well there are a lot of different issues going on. The, I think the concern in the local paper when the three individuals from the Faculty Senate executive council made quotes about whether or not faculty should be involved in the evaluation of the President and the continuation of his contract. The concerns raised were that those three individuals, uh, were represent, we’re making statements that were representing the Faculty Senate, so…

First executive committee member: The [garbled], the statements made were misquoted by the way. It’s simply the fact that the Faculty Senate was not the maker or the driving factor behind that motion, which was indicated by the Muleskinner….

….Second faculty question:….I’d be surprised at, at this point in time that those three individuals had represented themselves in that manner still maintain that that was a good representation of the Faculty Senate. And were speaking as if you represented the Faculty Senate. To my knowledge you did that.

Second executive committee member: Well, well, we in fact do represent the, uh, Faculty Senate as the executive committee. We were voted on by our representatives from our college. And we were asked to serve in that capacity and we have. Um, our quote, or my quote in the paper was in reaction to, uh, an ad hoc committee, uh, for, uh, statements they had put out throughout groupwise and the local media. And there was concerns from individuals addressed to me as though this was a, uh, speech or publication put out on behalf of the Faculty Senate. And it was interpreted by people in the community, uh, neighbors of mine had asked, uh, people on the street would ask me, uh, so, this is the Faculty Senate speaking? This ad hoc committee? And, in fact, I was not aware of any ad hoc committee, uh, within the Faculty Senate. So there was confusion and therefore we wanted to put out, uh, any potential fire that this caused.

Second faculty question: You’re, you’re still, I don’t think you’re getting the point.

Second executive committee member: What point am I not getting?

Second faculty question: You represented, at least the people that read the article believe, you represented yourselves in such a way that you were spokespersons for Faculty Senate. Now…

Second executive committee member: We are.

Second faculty question: Hold on a second. You can represent yourself as individuals. You can go I’m just representing myself and speaking as a Faculty Senator. You have every prerogative in the world to do that. However, what you did was you spoke out and made statements against that ad hoc committee and you did it in such a way that you represented, at least you claimed to represent, the Faculty Senate. Now, if the reporter reported it wrong, that’s fine. You have every right to represent yourself as a member on the Faculty Senate. What you did not do is, is, is that you represented yourself as if you were speaking for the Faculty Senate. That’s the problem….

….Second executive committee member: And, and, just to, just to, uh, reiterate [….] what you had said earlier, and, um, I don’t want to say that, um, I, I’m speaking on the committee here, but I truly deeply care about faculty governance. If people interpreted a quote in the newspaper, I don’t care about faculty governance, uh, they’re wrong. And to hear fellow senators and fellow faculty members say that we don’t care about faculty governance. And saying then why did we bother showing up to this meeting? We showed up to this meeting because we truly and deeply care about this institution and primarily the students that we serve. One thing that I really want to reiterate to the two gentlemen that asked questions here, is yes, I do truly care about the success of our students. And, and we as faculty members, that is why I went to this meeting as I felt honored to be invited, to go to this meeting, to give direct input to the board members who were there and to discuss with Ken [the presidential search consultant], uh, about his plans for this search. And, and to hear, uh, from you, and from others that we don’t care about faculty governance truly, I, I’m hurt by that….

Since we all care about students you’d probably think it would be a really good idea if someone would survey students to find out some of their their opinions. Somebody else did, too. Today we received the recent results of a survey on student engagement:

Survey on Student Engagement at UCM

Hello, we are students presently enrolled in IGEN 3224, Critical Thinking. We are preparing problem-solution presentation on how to increase student knowledge, voice, and involvement in administrative action here at the University of Centra
l Missouri (UCM) and would like to ask you a few questions in those regards. We are not promoting any course of action; we are simply interested in your opinions. There are no risks involved with this survey which are greater than those of everyday life. The information provided to us will be entirely anonymous and none of your personal information will be recorded. If you would be interested in helping us collect data for our project, and are 18 years or older, please fill out the attached survey.

Thank you for your time and cooperation. [….]

Survey on Student Engagement at UCM

My Major:

Are you a TRADITIONAL (18-24) student or a NON-TRADITONAL STUDENT (24+)? (Please circle one (1))

Academic Year based upon credits earned (Please Circle One (1))

Freshman        Sophomore     Junior     Senior

Number of respondents: 212


Non-Traditional: 29

Graduate Student: 2

Upperclassmen: 134

Underclassmen: 76

Please circle the number which represents your level of agreement as indicated by the scale below:

1. I have knowledge about the policies, actions, and general state of affairs at UCM.

Strongly Disagree 10

Disagree 80

Agree 109

Strongly Agree 12

57% in Agreement

2. Students have the right to know about important decisions being made at the university.

Strongly Disagree 5

Disagree 6

Agree 83

Strongly Agree 117

95% in Agreement

3. Students at UCM have an adequate voice.

Strongly Disagree 9

Disagree 62

Agree 126

Strongly Agree 13

66% in Agreement

4. Students should have input about who becomes the next president of UCM.

Strongly Disagree 7

Disagree 34

Agree 107

Strongly Agree 64

81% in Agreement

5. I would join an organization (Facebook group, student coalition, etc.) to fight for the student right to know.

Strongly Disagree 5

Disagree 74

Agree 100

Strongly Agree 33

63% in Agreement

6. A voting student representative should be on the UCM Board of Governors.

Strongly Disagree 2

Disagree 18

Agree 116

Strongly Agree 67

91% in Agreement

7. I would sign a petition to the Board of Governors saying I believe that students should be informed on all Board deliberations.

Strongly Disagree 0

Disagree 28

Agree 117

Strongly Agree 67

87% in Agreement

[formatted to include frequencies]

Hmm. A voting student member of the Board of Governors. Pretty soon faculty would want the same thing. And we couldn’t have that, could we?

And now, for the punch line. An emeritus faculty member spoke at the General Faculty Meeting on December 2, 2009 of his group’s meeting with the presidential search consultant:

Emeritus faculty member: I’m not sure at this point whether we’re all on the same planet. Okay? What I heard about all these other meetings is totally different than what we did.

The executive committee of the Emeriti Association of this university was asked to meet with, then we didn’t know who.  But we met with the President of the Board of Governors and another member of the Board of Governors and the individual who had been already chosen to be the head of the search….

….The president of the board says here’s what we’re looking for and read this litany of things describing, supposedly, what the board had agreed on as what the board was going to be looking for in a president. By that time, I was mad. I was very upset. And so were some others. Because we were being told, hey it’s a done deal, here it is, this, this is what it’s gonna be.

It reminded me of probably something that happened about the time they elected the president or two before Dr. Diemer. [laughter] Central Missouri State Teachers College. [laughter] Who’s students are coming from a very small group of counties. And this individual was to be steeped in the ethics and the history and everything of this university….

….But the general consensus of our group, as we went around responding to questions, was there were a few things we didn’t want. And, uh, what was described did not match what we felt we should be getting….

…You have a considerable task ahead of you, especially if you have to start with what we heard. And I pointed out to the president of the board what he said and what I heard might be two different things. But I also reminded him that this university at one time was what he described. But, today, it is an international university. Not serving just a few counties….

The kind of provincialism described is an insult to the provinces. “….Podolefsky’s supporters say he ran afoul of a small-town, old-boy network whose social lives revolve around UCM sporting events….” You think?

Our previous coverage of the issue:

Three steps behind, and to the right (January 25, 2008)

Three steps behind, and to the right, part 2 – a microcosm of our universe (September 21, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”? (October 15, 2009) (transcript of a portion of the live radio broadcast)

It wasn’t just about a tree (October 21, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: I heard it on the radio (October 21, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: let’s not get cut out of the will (October 22, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: $87.75 will get you one sheet of paper (October 23, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: They’re not playing hardball, they’re playing cat and mouse
 (October 23, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: a cola and some scoreboards (October 24, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: a few more pieces of the puzzle? (October 28, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: your silence means consent (October 29, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: let’s not get cut out of the will, part 2 (October 30, 2009)

Old media irony impairment (October 30, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: I heard it on the radio, part 2 (October 31, 2009)

“A Gentleman
‘s Agreement”?: where everybody knows your name
(October 31, 2009)

Methinks that someone is paying attention! (November 2, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: Bond, Stadium Bond (November 4, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: where everybody knows your name, part 2 (November 4, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: I heard it on the radio, part 3 (November 5, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: nothing succeeds like success (November 6, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: your Friday news dump (November 6, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: nothing exceeds like excess (November 7, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a grade for Accounting 101 (November 7, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: there ought to be a law (November 8, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: there’s gotta be a contract around here somewhere (November 9, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: there ought to be a law, part 2 (November 10, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: Garbo speaks! (November 12, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle (November 13, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”? Follow the money and it reveals the timeline (November 14, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: the new president search consulting contract (November 18, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a march on a cold and rainy day (November 18, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: raise their voices (November 19, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: great moments in radio reporting (November 21, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: Oh, my! (December 3, 2009)

“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: It’s simple, really… (December 5, 2009)