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Theodore K. Miller (SPEA)
Charles S. Watson (SPHS)
Treasurer: Julie Bobay (Library) Robert Eno:
Laura Ginger: (Business)
Maxine Watson: (Biology)
FALL 2010 REPORT
BFC Exploring Its Own Redesign
At its first meeting in September, the Bloomington Faculty Council received proposals for significant redesign of faculty governance on this campus. These proposals will be a starting point for the BFC, which is has placed at the top of its 2010-11 agenda the need to restore the campus faculty’s role in setting policy for areas under its purview and providing representative input for all major decision-making at IU.
Patterns of administrative leadership at IU have changed in recent years and the role of faculty governance has been weakened. Like many schools during an era when universities increasingly take corporate management styles as a model, Indiana University has instituted internal control regimes and decision-making procedures that focus on cost-effectiveness, quality assessment, and responsiveness to rapidly changing factors in the university’s environment. The trend is toward increasing professionalization and time-sensitivity in administrative initiatives. So long as the interests of the educational mission are served these can be healthy developments, especially at a time when challenges facing traditional universities are multiplying at an unprecedented rate.
But faculty governance here and elsewhere has been hard hit. Even before the current wave of changes, faculty governance was well known for its slow pace and uncertain responsiveness. As the pace for decision-making has quickened, the BFC has increasingly found itself marginalized, bypassed, or consulted after the fact, particularly in initiatives stemming from the Trustees and central IU administration. Trustees and administrators have made clear that the institutions of faculty governance are not nimble enough and faculty expertise not adequately marshaled through current governance structures to warrant consistently serious consultation or legislative deference. In his 2009-10 State of the University Speech, President McRobbie pointed to these issues: “Universities must often respond to important external constituencies with a rapidity and unity of voice that is more compatible with corporate and governmental organizations than with universities. Throughout the university, new internal and external pressures have made traditional shared governance more difficult than it has been in the past.” He called for faculty leadership to “revitalize shared governance.”
Reforms under discussion
Faculty expertise and the faculty’s unique awareness of the actual conditions of education and research are essential to good decision-making. Without it, increased administrative efficiency will lead to bold initiatives that undermine academic quality as much by succeeding as failing. This past April, the BFC responded to President McRobbie’s challenge by forming a committee to work through the summer and identify aspects of faculty governance that could be redesigned to restore the faculty role in university decision-making. The committee looked at models in use elsewhere and consulted colleagues outside IU with unusual comparative experience in assessing faculty governance nationally. It sent its report to the Council at the close of summer, and many of its proposals can be summarized in three major categories:
1. Leadership Currently, the BFC President and the Council’s coordinating Agenda Committee are elected by the BFC, and only the full Council can act with authority. The first set of proposals would replace the Agenda Committee with an Executive Committee empowered to act independently in exigent circumstances (though a two-thirds BFC vote could subsequently override such executive action). The expertise of the committee would be strengthened by including among an enlarged membership the chairs of four key standing BFC committees. It would be chaired by a President elected by the full faculty, and the legitimacy of the committee would be enhanced by including the past-president and president-elect as members. These proposals primarily address the issue of “nimbleness,” with attention to issues of legitimacy and credibility.
2. Committee Structure To respond to the professionalization of administration and the need to maintain a high level of relevant faculty expertise, BFC committees assigned to deal with budgetary issues, faculty affairs, educational policies, and long-range planning will be reorganized to provide permanent meeting schedules, staff support, and circulated minutes.
3. Communication Currently, BFC verbatim minutes are posted online, where the tedium of wading through them ensures that faculty will remain unaware of Council deliberations and decisions. The proposed changes call for the BFC Secretary to circulate by email brief summary minutes of all Council meetings. Other proposals relate to increased communication between the campus-level BFC and school-level faculty governance committees.
The BFC is now considering these and alternative proposals, with the goal of arriving at a new design that can demonstrate to the administration and the Trustees that the Bloomington faculty has responded to a changing environment and expects that its full legislative and consultative prerogatives under shared governance will be maintained.
The Report of the Committee Re-envisioning Faculty Governance is online at: http://www.indiana.edu/~bfc/docs/circulars/10-11/B6-2011.pdf
2010 Academic Salary Increases
At the August meeting of the Indiana University Board of Trustees, IU President McRobbie proposed and the Trustees approved an overall 3% salary increase for all IU employees. When voting on the proposal, several Trustees stated that they voted in favor of the increase only with the assurance of University officials that it would be distributed strictly on the basis of merit. At a subsequent meeting, the same Trustees sought assurances that some employees would be receiving no increase, presumably as proof of the appropriate implementation of the increases.
President McRobbie and Vice President Neil Theobald deserve credit for pursuing salary increases in the current political and economic climate. It is well known that some in the state legislature would rather see the University lay-off employees than bring down employee numbers through gentler means. Similarly, the idea of pay raises is anathema to some legislators, and the 2010 salary increases have been criticized publicly in recent weeks (see the Herald-Times articles cited below).
However, the implementation of the 2010 salary increase warrants faculty attention for several reasons. University administration issued very specific guidelines for distributing the 3% salary pool (details below) in opposition to long-standing campus and schools’ policies regarding salary-setting and merit increases. The guidelines mandated a certain view of academia, insisting that “stars” and “deadwood” be identified no matter the specific nature of individual performance. Faculty governance groups weighed in with these criticisms before the 2010-2011 guidelines were implemented, but the more directive policy was deemed necessary to meet the expectation of the Trustees. In the interest of pursuing a well-deserved salary increase for faculty and staff, University administration may be setting a new precedent in centralized control of salary decisions.
Individual schools and departments are the best place to determine the distribution of salary increases. Only those with expertise and personal knowledge, guided by appropriate policy, should be tasked with determining just what percentage of a group of faculty are “stars” or whether some individuals are deserving of little or no increase. In the current economic climate, the prospect of further salary increases seems distant, but administrators and faculty should beware of selling out established faculty policy in the lean times. It could become a permanent arrangement, leaving salary guidelines vulnerable to new forms of central control.
University Administration Salary Guidelines:
2010-11 SALARY POLICY for Academic Appointees
Retention and Morale are the foci for faculty salary increases. The salary pool for faculty is 3% of the FY11 academic salary base per RC/Campus. Each RC/Campus average increase for faculty will be 3%.
Citations (HT subscription required for access):
“Universities, agencies to be grilled at state budget hearings”
Mike Leonard, “IU officials ask for 4.2% more from state in 2011-13 budget year”
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