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Faculty Senate: Budget motion rejected, A2P2 changes approved

A motion to enhance faculty input to pending budget decisions failed in the Faculty Senate Thursday. Opponents said it was too late in the process and there had been opportunity for – and acceptance of – faculty input from the beginning of the process.

The Faculty Senate also approved a variety of program and degree changes, many the result of the academic affairs program prioritization (A2P2) process that began in early 2008 (see http://academic-prioritization.wsu.edu/index.html).

And the senate heard an anticipated budget timeline from President Elson S. Floyd, including: a special regents meeting April 29 to preview the budget expected from the state Legislature on April 26, and a public release of the WSU plan by May 1. 

The proposed budget motion would have appointed a committee to develop procedures for faculty input regarding changes/elimination to programs, units and degrees, as well as relocation/termination of all status of faculty. The committee would have reported back to the senate by May 1, presumably in time for the procedures to be implemented for faculty input to the WSU budget plan made public on that day.

Rich Alldredge, professor of statistics, said the committee would be doing a service by formulating best practices that the senate could pass on to the administration. Bill Gray, extension rural sociologist, supported the motion as a helpful educational effort, as did Michael Pavel, associate professor of educational leadership and counseling psychology, and other senators.

But others said developing procedures for input in the current budget crisis was unnecessary and/or too late.

“I don’t think what we do in a week will change what transpires in the next two months” of reaction, feedback and finalization of the budget, said William Fassett, professor of pharmacotherapy at WSU Spokane.

Besides, he said, an earlier request from the senate has led to development of rationales for budget cuts that Provost Warwick Bayly said he will provide to the group.

And budget reduction input from the senate – from its elected representatives on the steering and faculty affairs committees – has been ongoing, said Frances McSweeney, vice provost for faculty affairs. The administration can’t be expected to contend with new procedures at the last minute, she said.

Procedures were the crux of the problem for Elizabeth Siler, English instructor. She said WSU’s faculty manual is vague and insufficient in addressing procedures for program and personnel cuts at the program and department levels.

“It’s not procedures at the university level, but in the preliminary steps” that are the problem, she said.

Faculty contract documents from the University of Washington and University of Idaho, as well as recommendations from the American Association of University Professors, are more explicit and detailed, and better, she said.

Mary Gilles, business and economics librarian, recommended that the faculty affairs committee work next year to study these other documents and improve WSU’s faculty manual “after due deliberation.”

John Brown, entomology professor, asked how developing procedures for faculty input at the lower levels differed from what already occurred at department and program levels during the A2P2 process.
 
Decisions made during that prioritization are behind many of the cuts submitted by departments and colleges in their budget-reduction scenarios.
 
Program/degree changes

A2P2 also resulted in other Faculty Senate work Thursday. The senate approved a number of action and discussion items affecting degrees and programs. Some of them are the culmination of prioritizing and planning begun in 2008 by programs, departments, units and colleges. The changes (find details in links from the April 23 agenda on the Faculty Senate page at http://facsen.wsu.edu) include:

• Establishing a learning and performance research center in the educational psychology program in the College of Education. The center would expand the program’s cross-disciplinary (in particular, sciences and engineering) service in assessment and measurement.

• Approving a doctor of nursing practice degree, an accreditation requirement for the College of Nursing by 2015, contingent upon funding and catalog approval.

• Revising the 5-year landscape architecture program to a 4-year program, making it cheaper for students and WSU and also more attractive to students.

• Reconfiguring the agricultural and food systems degree programs in the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, a collective effort on the part of crop and soil sciences, entomology, horticulture/landscape architecture, economic sciences and plant pathology. The director will be replaced by an advisory panel of chairs/directors of participating departments.

• Reducing options for the bachelor’s degree in communication, primarily because better options exist and/or because of lack of interest on the part of students and/or faculty. Eliminated options include: broadcast management, communication studies, general communication, media and the law, and speech communication.

• Launching a certificate program in biotechnology management for the master’s of business administration degree, so students can combine business entrepreneurship knowledge and skills with background in the sciences.

• Merging the bachelor of sciences degrees in crop science, soils science and horticulture into one degree – the BS of integrated plant sciences. Offerings would change from three majors with 10 options to seven majors within the degree. 

• Consolidating the four degrees in economic sciences into a single major – a bachelor of sciences in economic sciences – and reducing the number of study emphases options within the major from 10 to seven.  

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