Faculty Senate discusses class scheduling, legitimacy of anonymous signatures and RCM model at first meeting

Megan Hermensky

The Kent State University’s Faculty Senate had its first meeting Sept. 14, discussing several topics including the changes in class scheduling, the legitimacy of anonymous signatures, the RCM model and several committee formations.

Melody Tankersley, a senior associate provost, discussed the need to use standard time patterns for three credit hour classes that are scheduled in non-exclusive used classrooms on KSU’s main campus. According Tankersley, standard time patterns for a three credit hour course are Monday, Wednesday and Fridays in blocks of 15 minutes with 15 minutes between scheduling, or Tuesday and Thursdays in blocks of one hour and 15 minutes.

According to Tankersley, using standard time patterns can maximize the use of our academic classroom space.

“The need to require standard time patterns for three credit hour courses is based on the fact that when we deviate from the patterns, we lose opportunities for class meeting times,” she said. “Each time one class is taught off pattern, it takes away an opportunity for another or two more classes to be scheduled in that same classroom. We simply do not have the room across campus to allow space usage to not be maximized.”

These changes would mean that all Kent campus three-credit-hour courses that are scheduled to begin before 2 p.m. must adhere to the Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday and Thursday standard time patterns. The changes would go into effect Fall 2016.

The legitimacy of using anonymous signatures with petitions for tenured track faculty was also discussed at the meeting.

Last school year, the issue arose when School of Art professor, Navjotika Kumar, was denied tenure by Provost Todd Diacon. According to a previous article from kentwired.com, “Kumar received 29 unanimous yes votes from the Tenure Review Committee, as well as four unanimous yes votes from external reviewers and yes votes from the director of the School of Art and the dean of the College of the Arts. However, the provost voted no, and she was denied tenure.”

After being denied tenure, faculty members will lose their job within one year. Faculty have the option to file an appeal with the Joint Appeals Board, but the president has the final say on the decision. If the professor still does not agree with the president’s decision, he or she may file a grievance with the KSU AAUP, or American Association of University Professors.

George Garrison, a Pan-African Studies professor and member of the Faculty Senate, introduced a petition calling for a vote of no confidence against the provost last semester. The petition currently has 85 open signatures and 28 anonymous signatures. The issue that arose though was whether or not the Faculty Senate would recognize the anonymous signatures. At least 100 recognized signatures are needed to pass the petition.

After discussing the issue with legal council, the Faculty Senate discovered that under The Sunshine Laws, “if there is any official group who has the names of the anonymous signers, then if someone was requesting that, the requester would be sent the names of the signers, so there is no way to keep signatures anonymous,” said Linda Williams, Chair of the Faculty Senate. Overall, this means that the 28 anonymous signatures will not be counted.

Some members of The Faculty Senate did not agree with this decision. “We’re talking about 28 of our colleges being disenfranchised in this process,” Garrison said.

Garrison went on to say that, “we are elected as a faculty or an organization to serve the interest of faculty, and we need to find ways to do that…We recognize anonymity as being absolutely necessary to our democratic process…It would be absurd for someone to jeopardize their future in a system and a process that has proven itself to be unfair.”

President Beverly Warren revealed that she plans to appoint an advisory committee to assess the current RCM model, or responsibility center management, used by the university. This budget allocation model was adapted in 2009, and according to kent.edu was created, “so that resources will flow to areas experiencing growth and encourage entrepreneurial activities, such as new programs or services, enabling us to provide higher quality services.”

The committee will look at how they might adjust that model to better fit our university’s mission and vision and values  and will begin to do this once a Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration has been chosen.

The Faculty Senate went on to discuss their own concerns with how the RCM model is implemented. Senator Robert Twieg, a chemistry and biochemistry Professor, stated that, “I’m a scientist most of the time when I’m not in here…. I want to know how many particles there are in a mole because if I didn’t do that I couldn’t do my job. I expect the same from the administrators who [deal with] the numbers in this university. I want it done with precision, and I want people to tell me the precision that they’re doing their job, and I’m not hearing that.”

Financial management was also addressed at the meeting. Warren went on to say that there are two finalists for the senator vice president for finance administration position, and they will be announced this week. Invitations will be sent out for a general meeting to further discuss the candidates, but there will also be an open session for anyone who would like to meet the candidates. The first candidate will visit KSU Sept. 18, and the second will visit Sept. 23. Warren hopes to move forward with the finalist in October.

Warren also revealed that she has created an effectiveness and efficiency task force committee that will be chaired by Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Information Services Edward Mahon and Senior Vice President of Business and Finance Gregg Floyd. She stated that the committee was created so they can look at the idea of how they can look at efficiencies, particularly administratively, so that they can realign resources towards strategic priorities that will look at cost savings so they best can identify those cost savings.

Forums for the Future was also announced by Warren during the meeting. “This is an opportunity to give you an update on where we are with strategic visioning. We have a list of core values, university priorities, we are suggesting peer and aspirational institutions by which we will measure a benchmark of our progress.” She stated that there will be three of these meetings held on the KSU main campus and one on each of the regional campuses. For Kent campus, there will be two different times for the meetings on Sept. 24, one on Sept. 25 and one on Oct. 1.

Megan Hermensky is the faculty and academics reporter for The Kent Stater. She can be contacted at m[email protected]