Book will assume academic position

Rachel Abbey

If faculty at the regional campuses have an administrative problem, they go to Pat Book, vice president of regional development.

Beginning tomorrow, if they have a problem dealing with academics, they will also report to Book, and not everyone is pleased with this change.

Book’s title will change from the vice president of regional development to the vice president for university outreach and regional campuses, said Provost Paul Gaston. With this change will come the responsibility of handling the academic affairs at the regional campuses as well as the administrative ones. While administrators and deans have been saying this move will simplify the reporting process for regional campuses, many faculty members have voiced their concerns about an executive officer being put in charge of academic affairs.

“This is not about whether or not Book in particular can do this job,” said Susan Roxburgh, associate professor of sociology and faculty senator. “These are crucial academic functions, and she is not an academic officer.”

Tom Dowd, chair of Faculty Senate, said the senators seemed very concerned when they heard about the shift at last week’s meeting. He would not give his opinion because he is still the chair.

“The concern is, number one: She wasn’t hired to do this,” Dowd said.

Book said when she was hired, it was with the understanding that she would be providing representation and recommendations for the eight-campus system.

“That’s what attracted me to Kent State,” she said.

When Book came here about a year and a half ago, she said the administration decided they would re-examine the position after she had some experience in it.

This change is just part of the normal course of small revisions the university usually undergoes when it starts something new, President Carol Cartwright said. Book’s position was only created last school year.

The deans have been supportive of the move, Cartwright said.

Betsy Boze, dean of the Stark campus, said the change will create a clear reporting line for all issues.

“I think it will be a very positive move, and it will clear up some relationship issues, reporting wise,” Boze said.

Gaston said this will solve the current dilemma of differentiating between academic and administrative problems. All issues will now be relayed to Book, who will take them to the provost or the president. The executive dean, who often serves as a liaison between the provost and the deans, will still have a part in making recommendations and decisions.

Book said she looks forward to working with faculty during implementation; however, many members of the faculty have said they wished they would have been consulted before the decision was made.

The faculty only found out about the change about a week before implementation, Dowd said.

“It looked to them like they were blind-sided,” Dowd said.

Concerns arose about the new title as soon as it was announced.

Some faculty fear the title will lump academic programs with workforce development and continuing studies, said Tish Soper, associate professor of accounting technology, chair of the Regional Campus Faculty Advisory Committee and senator. These areas were previously unrelated.

On the other hand, Jeffrey Nolte, dean of Salem and East Liverpool, said the change will combine outreach and academics, but that has become increasingly difficult to separate them.

“Anything that we can try to do to move the outreach at the university forward is a good thing, and I honestly believe this is going to do that,” Nolte said.

Many faculty members at the regional campuses are concerned about the academic responsibilities Book will hold, Soper said, such as having a say in faculty reappointments, promotions and tenure. When Book was interviewed, she was not going to be in the position to evaluate faculty on their teaching and scholarship. Now, the provost will make the final decision, but Book would be involved.

Frank Smith, faculty senator and mathematics professor, said the new levels of reporting sound like a relay system. He compared it to children playing a game of telephone – the message is always changed at the end, he said.

“Why do they want to do this?” Smith said. “It seems like it’s change for the sake of change.”

Contact administration reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].